This is beer country

Yuengling Bands and BBQ event returns to fairgrounds

By Tor Simms

Photo: Ann Ring and Stacia Burlingame unpack Yuengling at the annual Yuengling Bands and BBQ event, taking place this year May 31 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds

On May 31, for $5 you can dance to country music, eat barbecue from the area’s finest restaurants, and drink all of the Yuengling beer you can responsibly handle. The third annual Yuengling Bands and BBQ event is upon us yet again.

Residents of the Miami Valley will be treated to three of the fastest rising national recording acts in country music.

Amy Zahora, executive director of the Miami Valley Restaurant Association, says the festival hones in on “the new country artists,” or “the cutting edge of country music.”

Festivalgoers will be graced with the vocals of Miamisburg native and Wright State University graduate Alexis Gomez. Gomez competed on American Idol season 14 and made it to the top 24. She brings a unique sound to the genre by infusing her Spanish heritage into her country music. After Gomez performs, Old Dominion takes the stage, a band of national recording artists who recently signed with RCA records. They are currently touring with Kenny Chesney.

Before they ever performed, they were making an impact behind the scenes of country music as prolific songwriters, having written for The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Craig Morgan and Tyler Park.

Next up is Craig Wayne Boyd: he won season 14 of The Voice on Blake Shelton’s team. His single, “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face,” peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and recorded over 99,000 downloads. The festival headliner is The Voice season three-winner, Cassadee Pope, who was also on Blake Shelton’s team. Pope has had four singles in the Billboard Hot 100 and her album, Frame by Frame, reached No. 1 on the Top Country albums chart.

The festival also features barbecue from the Miami Valley restaurant scene. Among the participating restaurants are Company 7 BBQ in Englewood, Hickory River Smoke House in Tipp City and 1776 Grill located in Lebanon. Two other prominent area restaurants, Basil’s on Market in Troy and Kowalski Hots, serving hamburgers and New York style hotdogs, will also be on the scene. For the dessert lovers, Ritter’s frozen custard and The Smoothie King will provide the treats that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Company 7 BBQ is an award winning barbecue restaurant that was presented on the food television show “Food Paradise,” produced by the Travel Channel. They were named “Best of the best Barbecue Restaurants in America,” and they won Best BBQ in the Dayton Region. Hickory River Smoke House in Tipp City serves up traditional Texas Barbecue. Their specially prepared barbecue is applied with a dry-rub and then smoked for long hours by a hickory wood fire, leaving it with a flavor all its own. 1776 Grill specializes in mobile dining, concessions and catering. They prepare barbecued classics like hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, ribs, chicken and seafood.

The Yuengling Bands and BBQ event at The Montgomery County Fairgrounds is the product of collaborations between The Montgomery County Fairgrounds, The Miami Valley Restaurant Association and Heidelberg Distributing Company. Zahora was at the initial meetings where the scene was first conceptualized.

“We had a meeting with Heidelberg, and we wanted to do something with barbecued food,” Zahora remembers. “So we thought, what better way than to tie it in with some country music?”

She expects a turnout of about six to seven thousand people. “We can fill up the fairgrounds,” Zahora says. “I don’t know where else you could go and see three national acts for five bucks.”

Although Zahora is responsible for advertising and promoting and securing the area’s restaurants and the entertainment, she couldn’t do it on her own. Laura Elking, marketing and media manager at Heidelberg Distributing, credits Zahora and the volunteers for making this event possible, but this fest wouldn’t be the same without beer.

“I’m a little biased, but beer is definitely special!” Elking says. “Beer is meant to be shared with friends and family…”

As one of the Midwest’s largest beer, wine and spirits distributors, as cited on its website, Heidelberg benefits from Ohio, ranked fifth in the nation for beer sales, according to Elking.

Elking says Yuengling was “an easy choice” as “America’s Oldest Brewery,” but if Yeungling isn’t the “easy choice” for attendees, new this year are wine and sparkling alcohol spritz options.

But Ohio and, more specifically, the local area benefit from Heidelberg, too, according to Elking.

“We believe that we need a strong community in order to operate a strong business,” she continues. “The Dayton community has always been active and involved in attending local festivals.”

She says to look out for a diversity of beer options, including lager, light lager, summer wheat and black and tan, but what everyone will remember is “listening to some national country recording artists while enjoying some great local BBQ and sipping on an ice cold Yuengling.”

The third annual Yuengling Bands and BBQ event takes place Sunday, May 31 from noon-9 p.m. at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 1043 S. Main St. in Dayton. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $5 and $10 at the door. For tickets and more information, please visit or

Reach DCP freelance writer Tor Simms at

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