Dining With Denise Neil

Grub & Groove Festival will feature funk and soul food

Local food truck Brickhouse BBQ is scheduled to sell food at the Grub & Groove Festival.
Local food truck Brickhouse BBQ is scheduled to sell food at the Grub & Groove Festival. File photo

A Kansas City-based promoter is teaming with the Kansas African American Museum to put on the Grub & Groove Festival, a showcase of funk music and soul food scheduled for Aug. 29 at Jabara Airport.

The festival is being organized by Chuck Byrd, whose Platform Promotions puts on similar events in large markets across the country. Last August, his Soul Food Festival at Parade Park in Kansas City, Mo., included music by Cameo and Shai and attracted 12,000 people, he said. He’s put on similar events in cities including Denver and Dallas.

“Our objective and platform is to bring some happiness to people – to bring family and friends together for an afternoon of good, wholesome fun,” Byrd said.

Wichita’s festival will feature the Masters of Funk, a five-act lineup of bands responsible for many of the funk hits of the 1970s and ’80s: Lakeside (“Fantastic Voyage”), Bar-Kays (“Freakshow on the Dance Floor”), Con Funk Shun (“Love’s Train”), Dazz Band (“Let It Whip”) and Brick (“Dazz”). Jazz bass guitarist Julian Vaughn also will appear.

The festival, which will open at 3 and last until 10:30 p.m., will include several food vendors, including some serving soul food items such as macaroni and cheese, greens, candied yams, sweet potato pie, peach cobbler and cornbread. There will also be barbecue booths and catfish vendors, including Lutfi’s Fried Fish & Chicken out of Kansas City.

A few Wichita vendors also are signed up to participate, including local food truck Brickhouse BBQ and T.O.P.S. Steaks and Hoagies, which operates at 2251 E. 21st St. Former mayor Carl Brewer, who also worked with Byrd to bring the festival to Wichita, will be there serving his barbecue. Brewer has been active on the competitive barbecue circuit.

The festival will have several booths selling beer and mixed drinks. The event is intended for people ages 21 and over, Byrd said.

Byrd made a three-year agreement with the city to rent Jabara, near 35th Street North and Webb, which means the festival will have time to grow, he said. He hopes for a first-year crowd of 4,000 people.

John D’Angelo, the city’s manager of the division of Arts & Cultural Services, said outdoor festivals can be risky, especially in Kansas. But he’s glad Byrd and the African American Museum are teaming up to put this one on.

“I think that any time we can have a showing of different cultures and different music, it’s a good thing,” he said. “I also like that having it up in the northeast part of the city gives us the opportunity that events can happen all over the city. They don’t all have to be downtown.”

Tickets are $65 for VIPs, who get reserved tables right by the stage. Preferred seating tickets are just behind those and cost $45, with chairs provided. General admission tickets are $35, and those people are asked to bring lawn chairs for seating.

Food and drinks are extra. Byrd said people can get a meal for between $10 and $12, with a good portion size.

Tickets will go on sale June 1 at local ticket outlets, including the Kansas African American Museum, 601 N. Water, and online at www.platformpromo.com.

Mark McCormick, the African American Museum’s executive director, said he’s been working with Byrd for more than a year to bring the festival to Wichita. A portion of the festival’s proceeds will go to the museum.

McCormick said he attended the Kansas City Soul Food Festival last year and was impressed. Most major markets have festivals aimed at the black population, he said, including the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration in Indianapolis and the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta.

Getting an event like that in Wichita is a good sign for the city’s progress, he said.

“We talk about wanting Wichita to be marketed as an ‘A market,’” he said. “Most of the ‘A market’ cities I’ve been to have something like this.”

Reach Denise Neil at 316-268-6327 or dneil@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @deniseneil.

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