If you see smoke at High Park this weekend, don’t worry. It’s most likely from the teams of competitors preparing their best barbecue at Derby’s annual festival.
Smoke on the Plains BBQ and Music Festival is set from Thursday, June 6 through Saturday, June 8 at High Park, 2801 E. James St. With a new name and new features, the festival seeks to draw new attendees while maintaining its popular traits.
It will feature an all-new carnival for kids and families, live music, and an array of barbecue contests. The city anticipates around 7,000 people will attend.
WEEE Entertainment, based in Ford, Kansas, will organize carnival activities and rides at the festival, with 13 total rides for a range of age groups. Concessions will also be available.
The carnival will be active from 6 to 10 p.m. each day of the festival, as well as from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Wristbands cost $25, while one-ride tickets cost $3.
A kids’ corner will be set up at the festival as well, featuring attractions like princesses, inflatables, a climbing wall, face painting, and a caricature artist.
As suggested by its new name, the festival will have a focus on music, with live performances from four groups throughout the weekend.
“The last few years, we’ve had bands on Friday night, and those have gone over really well,” said Communications Director Kristy Bansemer.
Paramount, an ’80s cover band based in Salina, will kick off the festival’s live performances from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday.
Country, folk, and bluegrass will be in full swing on Saturday, with performances by the Haymakers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Morrison County from 6 to 7 p.m., and Mountain Deer Revival from 7 to 10 p.m.
If live music is received well by festival-goers, the city says it could become a permanent feature of the festival.
Saturday is the main day of the festival, with three barbecue contests taking place: the Kansas City BBQ Society Cook-off, Backyard BBQ Cook-off, and People’s Choice Contest.
People’s Choice, set from 1 to 3 p.m., will allow festival-goers to taste and select their favorite competition-quality pulled pork among eight, one-ounce samples. Tasting kits are $5.
“… [Competitive barbecue] teams are from the area – Derby, Rose Hill, Goddard, Maize, Wichita,” Bansemer said. “And we do have teams that come from outside.”
Other food and beverage options will be available at the event, including Shaken or Stirred Bartending, food trucks, and the Derby Noon Lions Club Beer and Beverage Garden.
Hog Wild Bar-B-Q will provide lunch for military personnel, VIPs, and volunteers.
Fewer secondary contests will be held this year, including the removal of Kids’ Q, a contest in which kids tested their cooking skills.
A new steak contest will be held Friday night with up to 30 spots. The contest was open to public entries. Participants will be given the same steak and must cook on site.
Contest winners will receive cash prizes and medals.
The Derby Recreation Commission will organize a new “Toss Like a Boss” cornhole tournament Friday night.
Parking will be available in lots by High Park’s baseball and soccer fields. The carnival will be located on the upper-level parking lot by the north playground.
Barring inclement weather, grass parking will be accessible from Madison Ave. In the event of rain, shuttles will be used to transport attendees from Derby High School’s south parking lot.
Proceeds from the barbecue festival will benefit the McConnell Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center. The City of Derby says it has donated $12,000 in festival proceeds to the center over the last eight years.
There is no entry fee for the festival.
For everything you need to know about Smoke on the Plains, check out the Derby Informer’s June edition of ZOOM magazine.