When; Friday May 7th 5-11p and Saturday May 8th 10a-11p
Located slightly south and east of Tulsa, Bixby maintains the small town feeling developed over the last 115 years. They offer their own slice of classic Americana near where highway 64 crosses the Arkansas River, the Bixby Barbeque N’ Blues festival.
Test of Time
2021 represents the twentieth anniversary of this event, and according to organizers this is the largest BBQ festival in the state of Oklahoma. Family friendly, drawing upwards of 8,000 people, this event still represents an excellent value. $10 seems to be the going rate, you can park on site. Another $10 gets you the ‘People’s Choice Taster Kit’ (only 2,500 sold Saturday 11:30-1:30) allowing you to taste and vote for the BBQ People’s Choice winner. At $15 the kiddos can enjoy an ‘Inflatable Jumpers Day Pass’, guaranteed to wear them out with all the jumping and sliding they can handle, along with the petting zoo, a trackless train ride, and pony rides
Food, glorious food
At the core, this is a barbecue competition with $12,000 in prizes and four sponsored categories; sausage, ribs, brisket, and pork butt. Over 80 teams are expected this year. They have also added a kid’s event, the ‘Kids’-Q’, 10 teams in two categories cooking up ground beef for ages 6-10, or chicken thighs ages 11-15. Family friendly on all levels.
Judging for the adult competition is done by Kansas City Barbecue Society Certified BBQ Judge. Yes, that is a thing, as it should be because barbecue is serious stuff, and not just in the southwest. Although, competing teams do mostly hail from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Texas. The core of great barbecue in the United States.
Food for the soul; music
It is also a blues festival as mentioned in the name. Entry to the festival and all the blues you can listen to are free. Organizers work with RadioIDL (local live streaming blues digital radio) and the Blues Society of Tulsa, to book local and national performers. They have the obligatory names like ‘Ronnie Pyle and the Drivers’, ‘Hydramatics’, and appropriately for the event, ‘Darrell Christopher & the Ingredients’. Music starts flowing Friday early evening and continues on through most of the day on Saturday.
But wait, there’s more
The small town feel continues with a classic food court offering festival standards from dos to cotton candy, along with beer and such. There will be some 50 retail vendors also offering their wares, goods, and services. And of course a fleet of volunteers who make all this possible. If you live in that region, check it out as a great way that you can give back to the community.
It’s not just about you
At its heart, the festival is about giving and fund raising, in this case for an excellent group. The Rotarians are internationally known for their philanthropy and giving back to their communities, and the Rotary Club of Bixby (www.bixbyrotary.com) is no exception. Prior year festivals helped fund the amphitheater in the Washington Irving Memorial Park. Their non-profit has distributed over 900 dictionaries to local third graders and organized the Christmas Parade. In addition, they participate in the national and international Rotary causes from Girl Scouts to eyewear for developing country’s citizens.
Typically the weather in May in Bixby is averages in the high seventies, and the preliminary long forecast term is looking just like that. Springtime should abound in the local environs around the festival. After the recent past of trials and tribulations for all of us, this literal breath of fresh air has an extra degree of meaning. With a mélange of experience from the sounds of live music, the rich and intense smells of top level barbecue cooking nearby, and a great community feeling to enjoy all of this in, it truly does not get much better. Oh, and helping out those in need by supporting a great local organization. Don’t forget about that!
If your travels, or your residence, find you in this area of Oklahoma you owe it to yourself, and others, to go be a part of this delightful event.