Larry Dean and the Stranger Creek Band have played venues as varied as a Burger King dining room and county fairs, but the band's front man said its performance tonight would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The band will be the opening act for the De Soto Chamber of Commerce Blues and BBQ that starts at 6 p.m. today and continues Saturday. The event marks the official opening of De Soto Riverfest Park.
"It's quite an honor," Inman said of being the first performers on the park's stage.
The asset the De Soto City Council hoped it would get when it approved construction of the $675,000 first-phase of Riverfest Park, 33630 79th St., last year was a destination attraction to boost the city's retail economy.
The park was built on the Kansas River just west of De Soto's historic core. De Soto Chamber of Commerce executive director Sara Ritter is estimating attendance of 1,000 tonight and 2,000 for Saturday. "That's a safe estimate, based on the number of calls we've been getting," she said. "We've had a lot of interest from Lawrence."
That could be because Saturday's feature act is Lawrence-based blues artist Kelley Hunt. A former sideman in her band, Dan Bliss, will play tonight.
Ritter recommended attendees to bring a lawn chair or blankets as there is no seating at the park.
The event is a merger of two popular chamber annual fundraisers, a blues concert introduced in 2006 and the Cookin' on the Kaw barbecue contest the chamber inherited last year when it grew too big for its organizer Darrel Zimmerman and his Zimmerman Kill Creek Farm.
The barbecue contest drew its limit of 49 teams, Ritter said. Starting at 6 tonight, barbecue lovers can help select the people's choice award winner. A $5 ticket will purchase a plate of 10 samples.
Six local organizations and restaurants will be offering food both days, and a beer garden will be available.
Parking is available but is not expected to be sufficient. Offsite parking with shuttle service will be available this evening at De Soto City Hall, 32905 W. 84th St., and Starside Elementary School, 35400 W. 91st St., and Saturday at City Hall and Lexington Trails Middle School, 8800 Penner Ave.
Also playing tonight will be Ann Zimmerman, a Salina soloist who mixes blues with Celtic, bluegrass and folk tunes, Bliss and the De Soto band Bluzville. Tickets for tonight's concert are $5. Prices increase to $10 with the music by blues soloist John Paul Drum, swing blues band Grand Marquis and Kelley Hunt. Saturday will conclude with a fireworks show.