The Decatur Barbeque, Blues & Bluegrass Festival was founded by the Decatur Preservation Alliance (DPA) in 2000. The Alliance had managed to save the old Decatur train depot, located at Candler and Howard Streets, from demolition but needed funds to move the building off of the railroad right-of-way and secure the structure. With permission and support from the City, they closed off Howard Avenue east of Candler, brought in a flatbed trailer to serve as a stage, rounded up some bands, and threw a party.
The 2000 festival was a success and DPA made it an annual event. Along the way, they invited other organizations to participate including the Decatur Active Living , the Community Center of South Decatur and the Oakhurst Neighborhood Association (ONA). By 2005, the Depot sat on new footings with a new roof, and DPA bowed out of the festival.
In 2006 at the City’s behest, the festival relocated to Harmony Park in Oakhurst. Led by the Community Center of South Decatur, organizers set new goals and presented the most successful event yet. Close to 5,000 people came through the gate, and the festival netted more than $35,000. Each of the three presenters—the Community Center, the Decatur Recreation Department, and the ONA—channeled their share of the profits directly back into the community through various initiatives.
In 2007, despite record heat, Harmony Park again overflowed with music and barbeque lovers. The same three organizations presented the festival, and each donated a portion of their share of the profits to the newly formed Barbeque, Blues & Bluegrass Festival Small Grant Program. A total of 40% of the event proceeds went directly into the community.
In 2008, even with a slowing economy, the festival had its best crowd ever. The crowd was treated to the best musical lineup yet, and inlcuded 2 hours of incredible Blues from Beverly “Guitar” Watkins and Albert White. The Decatur Barbecue, Blues & Bluegrass Festival Small Grant Program handed out $7,000.00 to several Decatur Organizations.
In 2010 and 2011 we had a record crowd of over 6,000 people, brought in three BBQ vendors to serve the needs of our guests, and were fortunate enough to have great beer provided by Fat Tire for the first time ever! The BBQ Small Grant Program continued to hand out a large portion of money to local Decatur Organizations.
For 2012 we are expanding our BBQ vendor offerings as we continue to build this festival as one of the greatest values around! You can also expect to hear 6 hours of the best Blues and Bluegrass music around, with fresh new acts for this year!