What better way to spend a sunny Fourth of July than outdoors with family, friends, fireworks and, of course, food.
Hundreds of people filled South Main Street and Lock 3 in downtown Akron on Friday for the city’s annual Rib, White & Blue festival, which continues through tonight.
Bands, bounce houses and other entertainment attracted the attention of many festivalgoers.
But the food was definitely the biggest draw at the annual summer event which features about a dozen rib vendors from Ohio, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Other vendors sold the usual festival fare — funnel cakes, sausage and steak sandwiches, lemonade, ice cream and fried just about everything.
Allison Bond of Akron sampled brisket from Texas Pitt BBQ with her boyfriend, Domnici Smith of Aurora, sister Tiffany Ward of Akron and 2-year-old nephew, Logan Lenhart.
“I usually come down every year and try new stuff,” she said. “We walked up and down many times until we picked one.”
“It’s good,” added her boyfriend, who never attended the festival before this year. “It’s a good experience — good food.”
Dominic Black, 10, of Akron, took time away from feasting on festival food to ascend a rock wall in Lock 3 Park.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “The food and entertainment — it’s just fun.”
Susan Gordy Ruben of South Euclid joined Will Hastings of Aurora on a blanket they spread in the grass at Lock 3 to relax and read after eating ribs and ice cream. The two decided to venture to downtown Akron to try the festival for the first time.
“It’s a nice day, a new adventure,” she said.
By late afternoon, nearly 700 people had already attended the festival.
Vendors were preparing for even more hungry patrons in the evening hours, when the Akron RubberDucks played a sold-out game at Canal Park and an expanded city-sponsored “Fireworks Finale” show, along with a concert by the Akron Symphony Orchestra, drew thousands more spectators to downtown.
Attendance during the festival’s first three days seemed better than previous years, thanks to sunny skies and comfortable temperatures in the mid-70s, said Kassi Russell, co-owner of Pigtails Barbecue of West Salem. Pigtails has been in the Rib,White & Blue festival for three years.
“Weather like this, you can’t beat,” she said.
Admission is free for the festival. Gates open at 11 a.m. and three bands will perform throughout this afternoon and evening. The last concert starts at 8:30 tonight.
All downtown city-owned parking lots, decks and metered parking spaces are free on weekends.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or email@example.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/CherylPowellABJ.