Bluegrass, BBQ draws record crowd Saturday
If anyone wanted barbecue Saturday night in Baldwin City, they needed to arrive at the Lumberyard Arts Center before 7 p.m. or else they were out of luck.
The line of hungry residents was out the door and went all the way to the sidewalk along Eighth Street. The largest crowd to attend the Bluegrass and BBQ event went through the food in less than two hours Saturday.
“It was extremely well attended,” Cardens said. “We were overjoyed. The weather was nice and people enjoyed the music. Having the music outside with the tent was a really good idea.”
Organizers of the event planned to feed 200 people, which was double last year's attendance. Around 7:15 p.m. Saturday, they ran out of food after 245 people came through the food line. Organizers were disappointed to turn patrons away, but the unexpected large turnout created the problem.
“I don't think we've had that large of a crowd before,” Cardens said. “This was probably close to the biggest, if not the biggest, attendance we've had at the event.
“I felt really bad that we got to that point,” she said of turning people away at the door. “We went out and made some more corn to keep feeding people while we still had meat left. We also ran out of buns, so we went and got more buns. We made more coleslaw, too.”
Tony Brown, LAC committee member, enjoyed the evening the large attendance.
“We were really pleased,” Brown said. “That was by far the most successful music and barbecue event we've had in Baldwin City. Changing it to bluegrass reinvigorated that festival. We lucked out with great weather and I think people really enjoyed coming out Saturday night.”
Although the food was eaten much faster than expected, the music continued throughout the evening. A tent was set up in the empty lot between the LAC and post office. For nearly four hours, event attendees ate their food and listened to bluegrass music.
The music tent was new to the annual event this year. Organizers and residents who attended the event thought the tent was a great idea.
“I listened to a bit of each one of the bands,” Brown said. “I thought they were all really good. They all gave us a variety of music to listen to. Having Cindy Novello close out the night was really terrific for me, because she's an old friend. It was great to hear her perform.”
The musicians on Saturday were Fresh Picked (Matt Kirby, Lauralyn Bodle, Steve Mason and Lisa Grossman), The Prairie Acre (Noah and Virginia Musser, Greg Yother and Tricia Spencer) and Cindy Novelo accompanied by Bodle and Spencer.
Along with the barbecue meal and bluegrass music, there were also hayrack rides around the Baker University campus and downtown Baldwin City. Mayor Ken Wagner drove the pickup which pulled the trailer full of residents before and after their meal.
“The hay rides were really well received,” Cardens said. “Our mayor drove the truck for the rides. He had a running commentary that I heard about. Apparently people really enjoyed that.”
Another addition to the event this year was beer with the meal. Those who attended the event and drank beer gave donations for the alcohol.
No admission was charged for the event, but donations were taken at the door. Cardens estimated the event grossed $3,250.
“I think the fact that we had beer had a lot to do with making it more appealing,” Cardens said. “Even though we had the beer, it was still family friendly. We didn't serve lots and lots and it was all by donation. We didn't sell any.”
The final addition to the fundraiser was the homemade cobbler-baking contest. Three judges were chosen to select the top three cobblers chefs. Diane Wagner won the contest, while Sarah Beth Houser and Donna Curran placed second and third, respectively.
“They all agreed on the top three,” Cardens said. “They blind-tasted the cobblers. It was a fun event.”