Barbecue and blues

The fourth annual Pork and Blues Rib Festival will take place from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln Cultural Center. Headliner Big Dog Mercer will play from 8 to 10 p.m.

The fourth annual Pork and Blues Rib Festival will take place from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln Cultural Center, 240 Warren Ave., Kankakee. The festival is hosted by the Vernon Wellness Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting healthier lifestyle choices.

“This is a great community event,” said Darrell Williams, of Kankakee, who is organizing the event. “There will be something for the whole family to enjoy this Father’s Day weekend. Come taste great barbecue and listen to music.

“There’s nothing else like this around — top blues and jazz performances and a barbecue competition. It’s the best of both worlds.”

There are more than 10 contestants competing, a mix of local and regional restaurants and food trucks.

“Eventgoers will be able to see each participant’s different barbecue styles, setup and grills,” Williams said. “And, most importantly, enjoy the food.”

First-, second- and third-place honors will be given in ribs and brisket categories.

“Judges are local people from law enforcement personnel to chefs,” Williams said.

And it’s more than just great food. The event will be filled with live music.

Second Baptist Church Youth Choir and Praise Dance Team will hit the stage at 2 p.m.

The Skinny Williams Group will perform from 4 to 5:45 p.m. The six-piece ensemble specializes in current pop hits and dance classics.

“They have some local connections and are excited to play in Kankakee,” Williams said. “They are a great group to open up the festival’s music.”

Luke Repass, a self-taught guitarist, will perform from 6 to 7:45 p.m. Repass and his bandmates have performed across the nation.

Big Dog Mercer, who also headlined last year’s event, will perform from 8 to 10 p.m. He is known for his soulful voice, emotional lyrics and aggressive guitar style. The trio consists of guitar, bass and drums. To fill out the sound, they add horns, saxophone and or trombone. He was named the 2015 and 2017 Chicago Blues Entertainer of the Year.

Last year, the event was held at Kankakee Valley Park District’s Bird Park. Williams noted the change in venue was because of the amount of people who attended.

“We needed a larger location with more parking,” he said.

Proceeds will go toward the Vernon Wellness Foundation Christmas gift drive for Aunt Martha’s. Last year, the foundation purchased 238 gifts for children in foster care. Proceeds also are used to purchase hats and gloves for those in need during the winter months. Last year, the foundation provided nearly 400 hats and gloves.

Admission to the Pork and Blues Rib Festival is $10. No alcohol will be served or allowed on-site. For more information, find the Pork and Blues Rib Festival on Facebook.

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