Bluegrass music and barbecued meats will fill the park throughout the day when the city of Neosho hosts the first Big Spring Bluegrass & BBQ on Saturday, Aug. 2.

“We’re keeping it really simple this very first year,” said Wes Franklin, public relations and events coordinator. “It’s called Big Spring Bluegrass & BBQ, and that’s essentially what it is. It’s just bluegrass music all day long and barbecue vendors set up selling plates of barbecue.”

Franklin said the first-time event is the result of the public prodding the city to coordinate features in the parks.

“A bluegrass event is one of those things that people really seemed interested in,” said Franklin. “We weren’t sure how interested they would be until we announced it, and then we had a great public feedback immediately afterwards.”

Franklin said the stage in Big Spring Park, built in the 1920s for outdoor performances, has not received much such usage recently, so officials wanted to bring back outdoor performances.

Franklin said the original itinerary has changed, as Neosho musician Nathan McAlister, at first scheduled to provide several smaller stints in the mid-afternoon, will instead open Big Spring Bluegrass & BBQ an hour earlier than originally scheduled, at 10 a.m.

“He’s a great traditional instrument music artist.” Franklin continued, “He can really do a lot. He’s a very talented young man. We wanted definitely to have him here in his hometown.” He said, “He just has his own style, he has that thing that you know when you’ve got it, you’ve got it, and Nathan’s got it!”

The first of seven bands will take the stage at 11 a.m. when Crazy Mule from Washburn entertains the crowd. Franklin said Riverbend of Jasper County performs at noon, followed by Borderline, what he called the most local of the bands, comprised of Newton County musicians. Spur of the Moment from the Monett area plays at 2, at 3 p.m. it’s Central City Grass from Fort Smith, Ark., and Coyote Hill Bluegrass from Northeast Oklahoma will put the picks and the bows to the strings at 4. Closing the show, Brightwater Junction from Cassville brings their act to the crowd beginning at 5 p.m.

Franklin encourages anyone to bring their instruments if they would like to break into impromptu jam sessions. Upon being asked by several people if they could bring their musical tools, Franklin answered, “Yeah, I just assumed you would anyway, so come on down.”

“People are free to bring their instruments – off to the side so they don’t interrupt the performances on the stage,” he said. “We’re pretty informal. We just want to keep it a fun event and we hope we have a good turnout.”

Helping to boost that turnout will be the smell of barbecue throughout the park.
Franklin noted, “The Bar-B-Q Joint here in Neosho, they’ll be here. Larry Clark Bar-B-Q [Neosho], they’ll be there. Sam’s Kitchen out of Stark City, Dan Weaver Barbecue, he’ll be here, he’s out of Racine.”

Franklin said a new venture, Beards and Beads of Pineville, will also serve barbeque in the park. Food prices are set by the individual vendors.

Franklin said the barbecue vendors will have soft drinks available, but attendees are welcome to bring coolers with their favorite beverages.

“We discourage alcohol,” he said. “In fact we prohibit it! Don’t bring alcohol to the park.”

Lawn chairs and blankets should be brought, as not much public seating will be available.