It’s been two months since we announced our decision to cancel the 2020 in-person edition of North Liberty Blues & BBQ presented by Veridian Credit Union due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but fans of the festival will still have the opportunity to have a taste of Blues & BBQ at home. The planning committee has cooked up alternative plans to make it easy for small groups to celebrate the event’s 14th year with responsible backyard barbecue parties (following all recommended CDC and state guidelines for gathering sizes and physical distancing at the time July 11 rolls around, of course).

Full details will be announced later in June, but we couldn’t wait any longer to give you a sampling to chew on.

2020 festival T-shirts and tanks, featuring our socially distant mascot Otis (pictured above), are available for purchase online for $20. Orders will be accepted through June 24 and mailed the week of July 6. On July 11, snap a picture wearing your shirt and tag us on Facebook or Instagram

Even if we can’t have 17,000 people together in one park, music can still bring us together. On July 11, we invite you to tune in to our North Liberty Blues & BBQ internet radio station. We’re working hard to curate 12 hours of streaming, which will include tracks from artists you would have seen on stage this year, past festival headliners, blues-inspired music we think you’ll dig, as well as interviews with artists and Blues & BBQ committee members. The station will stream from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 11. Tune in at any point during the 12-hour broadcast and find comfort in knowing that you’re sharing an experience with other North Liberty Blues & BBQ fans, even if this year looks different. Details on how to listen will be shared later this month. 

This year’s stroll down food vendor alley will be a drive (or bike ride) for takeout from a local establishment. We’re partnering with North Liberty restaurants  to offer Blues & BBQ family-style takeout specials. And because we know the craft beer selection at our festival is also a fan favorite, you’ll be able to add a mixed six-pack of local craft beer to your food order, featuring a can from Iowa Brewing Company, Backpocket Brewing, ReUnion Brewery, Lion Bridge Brewing Company, Big Grove Brewery, and Sutliff Cider Company. The menus and order form will become available later in June for pick up on July 11.

We’ll all miss the bounce houses and inflatable rides this summer, but the arts and crafts your kids look forward to each year aren’t canceled. Thanks to a financial gift from the North Liberty Optimists, we’re distributing 100 free craft kits. Reserve a kit online and pick it up at the North Liberty Library the week of July 6. Each kit includes all the supplies needed for kids to make their own guitar, rockstar sunglasses, and microphone. Projects are designed for children between the ages of 3 to 8. 

We’re also partnering with the North Liberty Community Pantry to make sure each component of our alternative event is accessible to everyone. 

We hope you’ll show your support for our festival, local restaurants and artists by ordering a shirt, tuning in to our internet radio station, crafting with your kids, biting into mouthwatering barbecue, and quenching your thirst with brews from local breweries. Stay tuned for full details later this month. 

North Liberty Blues & BBQ presented by Veridian Credit Union 2020 was (and still is) generously supported by Veridian Credit Union, GreenState Credit Union, Junge Ford BMW of North Liberty, South Slope Cooperative Communications, GEICO Cares, MidWestOne Bank, Shive-Hattery, North Liberty Optimists, FOX Engineering, Great Western Bank, Think Iowa City, Hills Bank and Trust Company, US Bank, Port O Jonny, KCRG, Locals Love Us, KZIA, Little Village, North Liberty Leader, Johnson County Refuse, The Englert Theatre, Eco Care, ICAN and the City of North Liberty.