31 thoughts on “Eye on the Street”


  1. Not to be too curmudgeonly, but I really wish people wouldn’t bring their pets to street festivals and farmers markets. The dogs invariably look miserable, tails between their legs. I witnessed a dog bite incident at the Grant Park Farmers Market a few weeks ago involving an unsupervised toddler who approached a tied up dog. It ended badly for the dog, which was carried away by animal control.

    1. Both the beer & wine festivals prohibit dogs, and that hasn’t hurt their attendance one iota. I’ll never understand why people would want to subject their poor dogs to scorching hot asphalt in the middle of August.

        1. True. These are often the people who’re also feckless, thoughtless parents (of the kids who run amok in restaurants & everywhere else).

          1. I am giggling at the idea of children as a lifestyle accessory. No doubt some people go into parenthood because everyone else is doing it. But boy do they find out quickly that there’s more to it. Children are more likely to change your lifestyle than serve as an accessory.

            1. Actually, the ones who disturb me the most are those who DON’T figure out there’s more to it. They just go their merry way, having fun with the idea of being parents but doing little if any actual parenting.

  2. The BBQ Festival has always been way too hot for dogs, and this year was worse due to the new location. We saw several dogs whose owners had them standing on the asphalt, and they were picking up their feet over and over because their pads were being burned. I REALLY hope the organizers of this festival will prohibit people from bringing their dogs from now on and that the rule will be vigorously enforced. I am certain that I’m not alone in feeling that I would have enjoyed the festival more if I hadn’t been so saddened and worried by the sight of all those miserable pups.

  3. We rode our bikes to the festival and looked like there was a good crowd. But ended up not going in. We asked ourselves “what are we paying $15 for?” Thinking of many intown festivals, there’s usually not a cover charge. It just seemed ridiculous to pay $15 to get in the fenced area to then have to buy food and drinks. Other complaints were there was no shaded area.

    Instead we went to the U-Joint, set outside and had a bite to eat. I then got BBQ fill last night at Fox Bros.

    For me, it seemed this festival missed its mark.

    1. I don’t know how the festival did this year in terms of financial success, or what it was like in the new setting. It may have “missed its mark” in terms of your expectation of free entertainment. Since that is not the goal, then there’s reason to hope it was, once again, a big success.

      Not all festivals are the same. Some are simply celebrations while others are fundraisers. BBQ, Blues & Bluegrass falls into the latter category. It began some years ago as a way to raise money to move the old Decatur train depot off the CSX right-of-way so it could be preserved. Once that goal was achieved, the DPA bequeathed the event to the Community Center of South Decatur, which has been putting it on in partnership with the Oakhurst Neighborhood Association and the Decatur Youth Fund. In subsequent years, that partnership took the event from raising about $3k to over $30k, leading to a vast increase in opportunities to support good works around the city of Decatur each year.

      The money raised after expenses is funneled directly into a range of worthy causes, large and small. The event depends on lots of hard work and commitment — by a dozen or so folks in the months leading up to it, and probably 100+ more who show up the day of the event and volunteer their time and energy to make it happen. Gate revenues may cover expenses, I’m not sure, but the real profit comes from the revenue-sharing arrangements with the beer distributor and food vendors. That is the reason for the fence and the “no coolers” policy. And the real intangible profits come from the shared experience of neighbors pitching in to create something positive and lasting.

      1. Thanks for the background and history of the fundraising festival. While I don’t feel like it missed it mark because it wasn’t “free entertainment” I feel like the location and set-up hampered the most achievable success for the festival.

        i) the location
        While I think the Oakhurst area was a great spot, putting a festival in the center of a parking lot surrounded by other local eateries that all have outdoor seating put them at an unfair advantage. Some people go to festivals for the music (@FM Fats), while we were out there for the food, drinks, and to hang out with friends….which lead me standing at the fence scratching my head looking at my Fox Bros and Community Que food stand asking myself ‘I have to pay to go inside to eat that?”

        ii) set-up
        If most of it’s revenue comes from beer/food vendors then doesn’t it make more sense to have the people buy more food (and even more beer) without them having to loose that money at the door? Instead of gaining money from 3 people ready to buy food/drinks, they lost it due to the entry fee (total of $45). Consequently, U-Joint got our money instead of the festival, which was the purpose of us being in Oakhurst in the first place.

        To re-iterate: I think having a open venue (festival in a parking lot) surrounded by local eateries (competition) while charging for a common commodity put the festival at an unfair advantage therefore missing it’s mark. Allowing people to spend more on local vendors which the festival would have benefited would have made more sense. If the festival feels like it has to have an entry fee, then they need to have more of an incentive (like a free drink) for the people to separate itself.

        Given all the people out there that day, could it be possible that we were the only people thinking that?

        Lastly, they’re other ways to raise money. Maybe the Oakhurst Neighborhood Association and the Decatur Youth can set up a fundraising tent asking for donations to support their cause. Get other neighborhoods involved. What other “big and small” worthy causes benefit from the festival. Creating awareness of great causes could do nothing but help. But this may sound more like a typical festival.

        1. A free festival would also provide fifteen more bucks for self-absorbed knuckleheads to spend on beer making them louder, more obnoxious, and more oblivious to the people who are there to be entertained by the performers, not the fatuous pronouncements of the bros with their backs to the stage.
          Don’t mind me. I’m an old crank..

            1. We wouldn’t want them lil’ kids ruining Friday night dinner at the local Longhorns or Golden Corral

              1. “We wouldn’t want them lil’ kids ruining Friday night dinner at the local Longhorns or Golden Corral”

                If only it was such places one had to worry about when going out to dinner.

          1. I picked that up on the pet statement and your last one lacks substance.

            I’m not too sure how many loud, self-absorbed, obnoxious knuckelheads get rowdy at an ‘ol school, local, Blues & Bluegrass festival.

            Seemed like a family friendly festival the time I was there.

          2. Call me an old crank too, but I agree with FM Fats and will go even further and say that I abhor most outdoor festivals, free or not, for the reason he cites. Most of the time they’re just an excuse to socialize, attended by too many people who somehow think that what they have to say is more important than the event itself and will be of interest if said in a loud, enthusiastic manner (and I don’t limit this to “bros”).

              1. Sorry, I left out the word “music” (though I’d include films, plays, etc. too). So, to answer your question, I’d assume they put on the festival in order for people to hear music if it’s primarily a music festival.

        2. “Maybe the Oakhurst Neighborhood Association and the Decatur Youth can set up a fundraising tent asking for donations to support their cause.” — SO much simpler! I can’t believe nobody ever thought of it before.

          1. Or maybe they could skip the tent and use the internets to raise money? I heard that credit card payments can be made via the interwebs these days. So: raise huge money, no nasty festivals to piss everyone off. Win-win!

    2. You would be charged more than that to see Roxie Watson or Larkin Poe as headliners at Eddie’s Attic.The city provides plenty of quality free entertainment all year round.

  4. Unsolicited opinion: rebrand this the Oakhurst Barbecue Festival or the Oakhurst Barbecue and Bluegrass Festival. Include tasting of pulled pork from each cue shop. Go back to old setup that allowed for milling about. The 3,000-degree blacktop rectangle was brutal. Start and end later. Thanks to all who organized – I love this festival and think it is the most undersold of Decatur’s events.

    1. Some good thoughts here. 14th year in the bag so change in title is dicey but always possible.

      My take in the 6 years I’ve been attending and volunteering is this is really a Blues and Bluegrass concert with great groups at an inexpensive price. And BBQ just happens to be for sale (plus corn dogs and funnel cake – yum). Unlike so many BBQ festivals, this does not involve competition and has limited BBQ vendors. It’s just the main food of choice to go with the theme. No idea what it was like the first 8 years.

      My idea is to focus on the music and socialization, wrapping the logistics planning around that. If that means tweaking the name then talk about it. The blacktop was tough – agree but Harmony Park in the past was cramped. Maybe cramped creates coziness that we love. And Harmony Park is getting a makeover soon.

      Thanks to all the unpaid who make this happen. I would like to be in the planning group; always good if you’re giving free advice. DM can put us in touch.

    2. Some good thoughts here. 14th year in the bag so change in title is dicey but always possible.

      My take in the 6 years I’ve been attending and volunteering is this is really a Blues and Bluegrass concert with great groups at an inexpensive price. And BBQ just happens to be for sale (plus corn dogs and funnel cake – yum). Unlike so many BBQ festivals, this does not involve competition and has limited BBQ vendors. It’s just the main food of choice to go with the theme. No idea what it was like the first 8 years.

      My idea is to focus on the music and socialization, wrapping the logistics planning around that. If that means tweaking the name then talk about it. The blacktop was tough – agree but Harmony Park in the past was cramped. Maybe cramped creates coziness that we love. And Harmony Park is getting a makeover soon.

      Thanks to all the unpaid who make this happen. I would like to be in the planning group; always good if you’re giving free advice. DM can put us in touch.

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