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ROCKIN’ RIBS BBQ and Music Fest expected to draw 40,000

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What: Barberton Labor Day BBQ & Music Festival
When: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1; noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 and Sunday, Sept. 3
Where: Lake Anna Gazebo, 615 W Park Ave., Barberton
Cost: Free entry and parking; donations accepted for local civic organizations; food vendors available; fishing derby has $5 entry fee
More info:; find “Barberton Labor Day BBQ and Music Fest” on Facebook for updates



Ribs fall off the bone as a vendor serves up a meal for one of the more than 40,000 at a past BBQ & Music Festival.


BGNN managing editor

BARBERTON  It says something about an event when days before the city’s annual Labor Day festivities resourceful people strategically stake out their prime place to see the sights and hear the sounds of the BBQ and Music Fest by setting up their own lawn chairs around the gazebo at Lake Anna.

It also says something about a respectful community steeped in tradition that come showtime the chairs are still waiting expectantly where the excited music lovers and festivalgoers left them.

More than 40,000 people are expected downtown during the three-day Barberton Labor Day BBQ & Music Festival Friday-Sunday, Sept. 1-3, which includes a rib burn-off, favorite festival food, live music, well-known costumed characters and a children’s section, and fireworks. The event at 615 W Park Ave. is free to attend and parking is free. Maps are on the website at and updates are on the event’s Facebook page.

Every year, they put on a good show and this year, fans of the festival can expect even more entertainment, said Hugh McMichael, who organizes the event with fellow Raymond James financial advisor Denny Liddle. Raymond James Financial Services in Barberton sponsors the event along with other generous businesses and organizations, including funding from Barberton Community Foundation.

“We’ve stepped up those efforts the last two years,” McMichael said. “It’s a full lineup.”

The pair leads a committee of about 10 or so people from different backgrounds and professions who bring their expertise to the table. They all help to plan the event for months and work hard to raise funds, which is a big part of bringing the free event to the community.

For next year, McMichael said that he and Liddle will hand the reins of the festival over to the newly formed Main Street Barberton. This seems like a natural transition, McMichael notes, as the festival contributes economically to the community and Main Street Barberton is working to revitalize downtown.

McMichael said that people hail from throughout Northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania for one of the bigger events in the area and one of the biggest in Barberton.
Three rib vendors will be slapping sauce on people’s favorite fall-off-the-bone menu items. Mojo’s Famous BBQ returns, as well as Swine BBQ and Old Town Barbeque/BG’s Main Event, the festival’s Facebook page notes. Also, about a half dozen other food vendors will be there with a variety of fun festival food.

“The sense of community here has been unlike anything I’ve experienced elsewhere,” McMichael said.

Anywhere from 60 to 80 volunteers make the event possible and police are on patrol throughout the entire weekend keeping people safe. A point has been designated to help anyone with a medical emergency and an ambulance is parked nearby.

Crossroads Community Church of Barberton donated all of the attractions and staffing for the children’s area. The kids area will be open 6-9 p.m. Sept. 1; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 2 and 3. Look for Fashionista Doll and The Little Mermaid 1-3 p.m. Sept. 3, Patriotic Hero and Spidey will swing by 1-3 p.m. Sept. 2.

After food trucks arrive and the beer garden opens at 6 p.m., Old Skool kicks off the entertainment at 7 p.m. – well – old school style. Saturday night is Rock & Roll night at the Gazebo featuring Sounds from the Cellar at noon; The Teabags at 2:30 p.m. and Disco Inferno at 7 p.m. Fireworks cap off entertainment Saturday night. Kick back and hang out all day Sunday and enjoy the Country Dayz theme at the festival beginning with The Cookin’ Country Band at noon; Whiskey Loco at 3 p.m. and Buck Naked Band at 6 p.m.

A beer garden is open during festival hours and is hosted by and serves as a fundraiser for Barberton Area Community Ministries, which provides a food pantry to help residents in need.

On Sunday, relax around the lake and watch or participate in the fourth annual Fishing Derby. Before the festival gets going for the day, bring your fishing pole or go to the visitor center at Lake Anna as limited poles are available first come-first served.
Two age groups: 4-8 years old fish 9:30-11 a.m. and 9-17 years old fish 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Prizes awarded for the biggest fish in both age groups. Pre-registration is preferred and a QR code is available on a flier on the Facebook page. $5 entry fee.

Also, a car show will be 1-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3 put on by the Magic Cruiser Car Club. Cost to register is $5.

On Monday, the Labor Day weekend is capped up with a parade, which the city puts on at 10 a.m. and snakes through town.

But first, stop in at St. Augustine Hall, 204 Sixth St. NW, between 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 4 for the 2023 Labor Day Pancake Breakfast put on by the local chapter of Kiwanis International.
Advance tickets are $6 for adults; $3 for children (6-12 years) and children 5 years and younger are free. Tickets available now at the Barberton Farmers Market 2-7 p.m. Tuesdays and from Barberton Kiwanis members. At the door, tickets are $7; $4 for kids 6-12 years old and free for 5 years and younger.
All proceeds benefit Barberton youth and community projects. Email barbertonkiwanis@ for more information.


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