If you don’t like chicken, barbecue and ribs served fresh off a hot and smokin’ grill, if you don’t like crowds and if you don’t appreciate good homegrown bluesy music, we suggest you just turn the page. We would also suggest you keep your distance from Uptown Greenwood, starting Thursday. But if you’re in your right mind, or just uncommitted at this point, read on.
It is nigh upon us, that wonderful July weekend when all of the above converge on Uptown Greenwood. Welcome, one and all, to the 14th annual Festival of Discovery and Greenwood Blues Cruise. Yes, 14 years and counting. Hard to believe for some, considering this event began with just a handful of barbecue teams and an equally small sampling of blues musicians. Now, it’s grown into a mega event, a huge draw for thousands of people. There are nearly 100 competition teams clamoring to take home the Kansas City Barbeque Society trophy and we are at the point of having nearly 20 different groups or individuals taking to the various venues for the Blues Cruise.

All we can say is “Wow! This is fantastic.” But then again, we are among the festival’s biggest fans. Others might moan and groan, especially now that we have entered the second year the event has grown so large it necessitates closing down all four lanes of Main Street in Uptown proper. However, we prefer to think of Main Street’s closure as a good sign. It’s a sign that the Festival of Discovery and Greenwood Blues Cruise is not only growing in terms of the number of teams and musicians, but also in terms of its popularity. And anytime a community can lay claim to such it’s a good thing. We will have visitors from near and far in and around Uptown spending money, sleeping in our motels, shopping and, believe it or not, finding room for more food they’ll consume in our restaurants. In short, this is good for Greenwood’s economy, even if it causes a few inconveniences for some. And rather than complain about it, people would be wise to find a way to capitalize on the influx of people.
All too often in the Lakelands we hear the same tired old complaint: There’s nothing to do here. That is just so wrong. Some people apparently think you can only have a good time by leaving town. Yet, Greenwood has so much to offer, if residents would simply take the time to experience events such as this.
Think about it. You don’t have to go far to enjoy something great, be it pulled pork, brisket, chicken or hash. It will come to you, if you only make the trip Uptown. You don’t have to go far to take in some extraordinarily fine musicians, brought to you by Gary Erwin, who has been lining up the Blues Cruise since the festival’s inception. So, if you were thinking you might head to the beach this weekend and spend a lot of time in maddening traffic, paying exorbitant hotel bills and watching people stroll along the beach wearing something they ought not be wearing, think again. Stay at home and enjoy a fun-packed weekend right here. And then pat yourself on the back for keeping dollars in the local economy.