MARC BBQ and Music Festival

A crowd gathers at a previous MARC BBQ and Music Festival.

Those in the mood for swimming, barbecue, classic rock and shaking that typically lasts throughout the night are in luck: the third annual BBQ and Music Festival comes to the Meadville Area Recreation Complex on Saturday.

“It’s going to be an unbelievable show,” said Rick York, the Meadville Area Recreation Foundation board member who has led the event since it was launched in 2017 and who helped to select the two acts that will perform. “I’ve seen them at least six times, and I’m telling you they will rock this town like it’s never been rocked before.”

Gates open at 3:30 p.m. for the concert and food extravaganza, with two well-regarded classic rock tribute bands taking to the stage over the course of the evening. Dirty Deeds, which simulates AC/DC performances, takes the stage at 5. An Eagles tribute band, 7 Bridges, follows at 8.

“Immediately after the last song, there will be fireworks,” York said. “The last beat of the song is the signal to start the fireworks show.”

Music represents only half of the day’s menu. In addition to the two bands, eight food vendors from northwestern Pennsylvania will be present throughout the event. Two of the food sellers will offer the smoked meats that give the event its name, and others will provide a wide variety of food and snacks from which to choose so people of all culinary preferences will be able to rock and eat all night long.

The concert will help to kick off what promises to be an exciting season for the facility, according to Aaron Rekich, executive director of the MARC. All money raised from the event will benefit the MARC’s foundation, which has already targeted its next projects after the installation of new ice chillers for the George S. DeArment Ice Arena last year.

“Well finish up the Zamboni (ice resurfacer) project, and the pool locker rooms are the next one we'll start tackling,” Rekich said, “so a big chunk of the money this will raise will go to the locker rooms.”

A new ice resurfacer should be circling the MARC’s arena by December, Rekich said.

The anticipation of continued improvements at the facility drove much of the efforts by the foundation’s volunteer members in organizing the event. Anticipation for the event itself was every bit as high among MARC officials.

If the crowd is as large as expected, York said, the festival may be expanded into a multi-day event at the Crawford County Fairgrounds next year. About 1,000 people attended the event in 2017, according to York, and about the same number came last year despite the threat of rain throughout the day. Organizers hope to see 2,000 to 3,000 people this year.

Rekich is excited about the chance to see the songs of one of his favorite bands performed live.

“‘Hotel California,’” he said, “was one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar.”

The outdoor show in the MARC parking lot goes on rain or shine. Seating for the event is festival style, so concertgoers are encouraged to take their own chairs.

Rekich recommended the lightweight folding seats commonly used for camping — the kind “with a drink holder for your beer.”

Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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