North Columbia Turns up the Heat for Ribs & Renaissance

Fayth Hope performs at this year’s Ribs and Renaissance festival, along with Dwele.

We’ve turned up the heat on North Columbia’s biggest backyard barbecue on June 2 bringing great food, outstanding entertainment, and family fun to the heart of Eau Claire.

Ribs & Renaissance, back after a one-year hiatus, kicks off the first week of summer vacation with a sizzling day-long event set in the historic Eau Claire Town Square (ca. 1911). The day begins with plans to best national records for participants in a Zumba demonstration. The 9:30 A.M. challenge is part of Healthy Columbia programming to improve health and fitness for residents of 29203 and will be directed by Karen Long, Zumba instructor at St. John Baptist Church.

And if Zumba doesn’t get things heated up, then visitors to Ribs & Renaissance will surely enjoy the heat generated when Columbia’s finest barbecue chefs participate in a BBQ Th’ow Down to choose the best of the best. All day visitors will vote for the People’s Choice BBQ while the masters duke it out for the Golden Q Award. Just to keep things healthy, there will also be “healthy grilling” demonstrations during the day and vegetarian grilling that’s sure to please even the most avid carnivore!

While munching away on BBQ and a variety of other festival fare, visitors to R&R will find exceptional entertainment on two stages. Headlining the event will be Grammy Award winning singer and multi-instrumentalist, Dwele, whose neo-soul sound speaks volumes of his Detroit roots. Also on the bill are funk-soul-jazz artists, The Secret B Sides; local gospel songstress Regina Skeeters; guitar-cello duo DayClean; spoken-word and jazz performer Fayth Hope; and Columbia emcee Fat Rat da Czar backed by DJ Shekeese, local legend behind the boards and co-founder of Non-Stop Hip-Hop Live.

A community stage hosted by Kentrail Grooms will feature a recycled fashion show, a talent show, and a variety of amateur performances by local artists.

For those with a taste for the arts, the Historic Eau Claire Print Building will offer a look into the art of African-American filmmakers. REEL Black Pix will feature film and cultural experiences for visitors of all ages. Presented by Sufia and Seitu Amenwhasu, African storytelling, dance and drumming will fill the air and local quilt maker Grassanne Samuel will give participants a chance to design a square for a community quilt. For the more adventurous, Historic Columbia will conduct a mini walking tour of this historic community.

At the KidZone, kids will enjoy inflatables, games, cotton candy, popcorn and great hands-on arts and educational projects offered by the Eau Claire Promise Zone. There will also be visits from a variety of furry, feathered and funny characters well-known in the Midlands.

Kids of all ages will find some fun at R&R. There’s a classic car show, 3 on 3 Basketball, a hula-hoop competition, a health fair with information and screenings, and more. And, did we mention surprises? There will be a few special folks dropping in during the day, so it’s a good idea to keep that Twitter window open for updates! You can also find us on Facebook and at

Ribs & Renaissance is presented by the City of Columbia and the Eau Claire Community Council. Sponsorship partners include the North Columbia Business Association, the Eau Claire Development Corporation, Pepsi, WHIG, Copy Pickup, the Eau Claire Promise Zone, Keep the Midlands Beautiful, Historic Columbia and Healthy Columbia.

Vendor, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities are available on line or by calling Becky Bailey at 803-454-0088 (volunteers); Steve Gibson at 803-530-6705 (vendors) or Karen Starks at 803-530-9568 (sponsors).