A few sprinkles of rain failed to dampen the spirits of the large crowd gathered in Neosho's Big Spring Park for the 4th annual Bluegrass and Barbecue festival on Saturday.

A few sprinkles of rain failed to dampen the spirits of the large crowd gathered in Neosho's Big Spring Park for the 4th annual Bluegrass and Barbecue festival on Saturday.  
The aroma of barbecue and other food treats wafted through the park as bluegrass music provided music for the ears of all present.
Sixteen food vendors were on hand offering a wide variety of smoked meats and barbecue prepared in various styles.  Other food items available included kettle corn, funnel cakes, fried potato curls, home brewed root beer and roasted ears of corn. Everything from nachos to hot dogs could also be found.
One of the barbecue vendors on site was Larry Clark Barbecue of Neosho. Clark offered pulled pork, polish sausage, and hot dogs along with soft drinks.
"I've been here (the festival) ever since the first one," Clark said.  
When asked what sets his barbecue apart from any other, Clark smiled.
"Love," he said. "Love is what makes my barbecue special."
Cynthia Ray-Clark, Larry's wife, said the seasoning used in their pulled pork is s secret blend.
A pair of ceramic pigs at their stand serve as the mascots.
"We call them 'Everett and Linda," Clark said. "Because that's who gave them to us."
Food vendors were located along the west end of Spring Street as well as in the parking lot beside the fish pond.  Spring Street was closed to traffic from the intersection with College Street. Shuttles ran throughout the festival from the northeast corner of the Neosho Square and delivered festival goers near Big Spring Park.
 The open mic stage, available to anyone wishing to perform, was located in the north section of the park, just behind the fish pond on the grass.
Across the street, the warm-up stage was located near the Big Spring that gives the park its name.
On the main stage within the park, eleven different bluegrass groups performed from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Admission was free and many of those attending brought along lawn chairs while other chose to sit on the grass or on a park bench. With rain in the forecast, some came prepared with rain slickers, rain bonnets, and umbrellas but the heavy rain held off until after the festival.
What rain did fall failed to interrupt the performances and didn't daunt the spirit of either the performers or the audience.
The Roving Gamblers were one of the groups who took the stage. The band hails from Northwest Arkansas and is a self-dubbed hard driving, traditional and progressive bluegrass band.  Band members included Walter Shook, Tony Talley, Christine Talley, Tim Case, Steven Flory and Adam Hardcastle.
Hardcastle made his banjo ring as the group delivered bluegrass to the crowd's appreciation.  The Roving Gamblers played a mix of traditional bluegrass tunes and original compositions.
Local residents and visitors who came for the festival filled the park.  In the early hours of the festival, some of those attending also took advantage of the Neosho Farmers' Market located nearby at the corner of Spring Street and Jefferson Streets.
Bluegrass and Barbecue is one of Neosho's major festivals and has grown in popularity each year since it began in 2013. It is held annually on the first Saturday in August at Big Spring Park, in historic downtown Neosho.