Urbana gets a taste of blues, brews and BBQ

As the sound of music and the smell of grilling trickled through downtown Urbana, people flocked to Urbana’s Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival on Friday and Saturday. The event attracted residents and others from neighboring communities to the festival.

The event featured 12 food stands, which offered everything from barbecue sandwiches to kettle corn and pineapple-carved smoothies. Along with the food at the festival, there were also 11 musical artists and four breweries.

Vincient Hines, member of the festival staff, said he has worked at there for the past two years. He said there are not as many people in attendance at this year’s event compared to last year’s festival.

“This year, it’s good. It’s not as big as it was last year, but it’s decent. I like it a lot,” Hines said. “They have the right people out here. People that have come out here to enjoy themselves and not cause (any) ruckus.”

Hines said his favorite part of the festival is to see families come out with their children. He said the downside of the event is that it only lasts two days.

The festival is also an opportunity for vendors to sell craft items and to get residents interested in a particular activity in the larger community.

Kayla Fitch, instructor for HMD Academy, said she was working at a stand to promote the martial arts academy, which specializes in Tae Kwon Do.

“But today we’re just sitting here at the booth enjoying the festival and seeing if we can bring in any people that are interested in trying out martial arts,” she said.

She added that she hoped to end the night on a good note without any rain, because the rain scare earlier made all of the stand owners take everything down only to be put up again.

Tamara Johnson, a stand owner who sold children’s books at the event, said the best part of the festival was the food. Johnson said she ate a slider covered with chipotle cherry sauce that was really good, but the best food she had at the festival was cheesecake dipped in chocolate.

“The food is good, and it’s great meeting people,” Johnson said. “I’ve met a lot of people that I know too that I don’t see all the time, so that’s kind of fun.”

Mike Krumwiede, White Heath, Ill., resident, said he started the night off with egg rolls as an appetizer and followed up with barbecue. Krumwiede said he had difficulty picking what to eat because there were so many choices to pick from amidst the food stands.

He added that the festival has been successful with entertaining musical performances.

“All these blues performers are terrific. It’s excellent that they’ve been able to draw them here to Urbana,” he said. “They’re all outstanding.”