Frequently asked questions

Didn't you used to be called LIBERTY CENTRE Blues & BBQ? What's up with the name change?

Oh, how sweet - you noticed. That's so nice! We don't know how long we will be at Liberty Centre, it may be a year, it may be a decade, but we better get used to the new name BEFORE we have to relocate. So, we are now NORTH LIBERTY Blues & BBQ.

What happens if it rains?

First of all: what? Don't even think like that! Second, the event is scheduled for Saturday, May 25; the rain date is Sunday, May 26. We try not to cancel for rain, but if the winds are bad and there's excessive storming, then we'll use ye-old-rain date. "How bad could it be?" That's what you are asking, right? Check out the footage from the 2011 windstorm at Blues...


How much does it cost to attend Blues & BBQ?

It's free. (Isn't that awesome?) You don't have to pay to listen to the bands or to enter the beverage garden. You don't pay to fish, jump in the bouncy house, visit the fire department, blow some bubbles, get a balloon, throw a baseball, pet a goat, watch the fireworks, build a musical instrument, get a temporary tattoo or go down the giant slide. (We weren't kidding...this really is a party and we want EVERYONE there!)

Why is the party free?

The purpose of North Liberty Blues & BBQ is to bring the community together for a free, family-friendly event under the umbrella of live, Iowa blues music and remarkable food. The party is coordinated by the North Liberty Community Betterment Group with the goal of providing North Liberty residents and visitors an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the area without spending money. The festival is paid for by local business sponsorships and donations.

Besides, sometimes you need to go out and spend time with friends and family. Why not spend a nice summer day with a free festival without breaking the bank?

What happens to the left over money?

What left over money? We break even. No profit. I think we may have some quarters someone threw into the bead bucket, so that's like $1.25. This celebration is for the community, by the community. If we do make a profit, it will go toward the event. We may even try to start a scholarship fund. But again, we haven't made any money, so that hasn't even been a possibility.

    What time do things happen?

    The party starts at 11AM and ends at 11PM. Most of the kid rides and activities end at 7PM, though. (Otherwise, they would be jumpin' around in an unlit bouncy house.) Food vendors typically serve until sunset, but some of them stay the whole day. The BBQ contest starts at 4:30. The FIREWORKS are at 9:45PM. Finally, the beverage garden is open the WHOLE time, but last call is 10:45PM. Check out the activities page for entertainment line up.

Where are the fireworks?

There's a ring of fire right by the water on Community Drive. It's just north of the shopping center with Charlotte's, Tryon and T-Nails off of Penn. The giant ring of orange fencing is our fireworks zone - right next to the party. So, you'll have a great view from the beverage garden.

Can I bring my dog to the event?

Yes, you may bring your dog, but they are not permitted on north side of the Schechinger State Farm Food Vendor Alley. In other words, dogs are allowed on the thorough fare and the grass area with the games and rides. You must pick up after them, ensure they do not fight, jump, bite or nip. Owners must stay with your dog at all times and keep the dog on a short leash! Dogs must be at your side at ALL TIMES! If there are problems, security will tell you to remove the dog from the event. Guests are discouraged from bringing their dogs to the fireworks. (Dogs get all barky and sad-earred 'cause of the boom-boom sounds) Dogs are not permitted in the beverage garden, due to health code.

Can I bring a lawn chair?

Certainly, bring a chair, bring a blanket, bring friends. However, coolers are not permitted at North Liberty Blues & BBQ. Alcohol is not allowed outside the beverage garden.

It’s a free event, but purchasing barbecue, art and beverages is part of the fun. What forms of payment are acceptable?

Cash only please. There is an ATM available at the Community Center, as well as at neighboring banks and credit unions. Some art vendors may accept checks.

Where should I park my car?

Limited parking is available next to the festival near Jones and Washington: simply take Cherry to Jones and turn onto the grass just west of Washington.

Guests are encouraged to walk or bicycle to the event, as parking on neighboring streets will be limited. Parking is also available at the University of Iowa Community Credit Union, the Community Center and the south side of the lot with Roadies and Capanna.

Parking on Liberty Way is for North Liberty Blues & BBQ vendors only. The lot with Tryon, Studio 5, T-Nail Salon and Charlotte's are for their customers only. Please do not park in that lot unless you are a customer.

There is handicap parking on Liberty Way.

Where can I park my bike?

Bike racks are available at the Community Center. From there, you can easily walk through the underpass to the party.

Is smoking permitted?

This is an outdoor entertainment venue and, therefore, smoking is not allowed anywhere at the party - including the beverage garden. This is keeping with the Iowa Smokefree Air Act.

Where will the party be in 2013?

We don't know. We play it by ear. If you asked the planning committee a year ago where we would be in 2012, we said, "We don't know. We play it by ear." The event was founded in Liberty Centre for Liberty Centre, but most of the Liberty Centre spots are gone. So, we'll see. We like being at Liberty Centre, but we may be needed in other places (like Batman) or the spots may not be available. We are here for the community, so we go where the community needs us.