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Saturday, September 02, 2017

At Festival, Crisp New England Meets Sultry, Savory New Orleans

By James Lomuscio

With chillier than usual September weather and a bit of an overcast by 5 p.m., the 10th annual Blues, View & BBQ Festival at first glance today seemed more like an Oktoberfest than a New Orleans style barbecue and music jam.

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The head of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association estimated more than 5,000 persons attended today’s opening day of the two-day festival.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

But the smoking sounds and scents prevailed on the festival’s first day in the parking lot behind the Westport Library and on stage at the Levitt Pavilion.

Hints of barbecue still wafted up from the Imperial Avenue parking lot where Crew du Que took first place for overall best barbecue in the Cooking for a Cause competition in which 15 grillmaster teams vied for the Kansas City Barbecue Society title. All of this year’s funds raised from that event’s entry fees would go to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, according to the Westport Downtown Merchants Association (WDMA), sponsor of the event.

Savory smells of ribs, brisket and pulled pork also filled the lot lined with food vendors and filled with bouncy games for children, plus merchants showcasing wares.

One food vendor was Bobby Q’s Cue & Co. of Norwalk, whose owner Bob LeRose created the festival 10 years ago when he headed the WDMA and owned Bobby Q’s on Main Street.

LeRose was sequestered in the green room on the Levitt stage, while the New Orleans blues, funk band Bonerama held the crowd swaying and cheering. Bonerama is a three-trombone performance group that also sings classic rock with a brass sound

“It’s been amazing; the music is fabulous,” said Tim Roach from Asheville, N.C., who made the festival a priority while visiting family in Norwalk. “It’s New Orleans fun in Westport.”

This was the fourth festival that drew David Trucker of Jersey City, N.J. to town.

“We have friends in Westport, and I went to school in New Orleans at Tulane,” Trucker said. “I love the music of New Orleans.”

He was excited that Galactic, a New Orleans funk band, would perform at 8 p.m.

Business was brisk up top at the entrance to the Levitt where event sponsors New Belgium Beer and Pernod Ricard, owner of Jameson, Absolut and Altos Tequila, continually to served up drinks.

A new arrival at this year’s festival was Maserati of Westport which drew close-up views in the library lot from festival goers enamored by the Maserati Levante and Alfa Romeo’s Julia.

While the adults were drawn to Italian automotive artistry, children focused the Touch a Truck display provided by Westport’s Gault, Inc.

WDMA President Randy Herbertson said about 5,000 persons were in attendance throughout the day, with a similar number expected as the festival continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“Typically, we get 10,000,” said Colleen Wiedmann.

And even with expected showers Sunday, she said, “It’s rain or shine.”

“And the afternoon will be fine,” Herbertson said.

For further information, visit http://www.westportdma.com.

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Posted 09/02/17 at 06:50 PM  Permalink



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