Have you or your children ever ridden a horse, a bike, traveled down a zip line, gone fishing or climbed a rock wall?
Well, there are children from Duncanville and the surrounding areas, who are physically challenged that would never have the opportunity to do any of these things except for the sponsorship of the Duncanville Lions Club and the Texas Lions Camp at Kerrville, Texas. On April 22 and 23, Armstrong Park in Duncanville will be the destination of competition barbecue smokers, blues lovers and families from all over Texas.
The Big Red Smokin’ Blues & BBQ Festival is a charity event in partnership with the Duncanville Lions Club, and the funds generated by this event will sponsor children with physical disabilities, cancer and type 1 diabetes to enjoy the Texas Lions Camp. When Michael Douglas went to visit the camp, he did not return the same as when he left. There he met a little boy by the name of Lincoln, who was enjoying the barnyard animals and horses and the things kids normally do in a gym, which he said was his favorite. Michael created a video of the day he met Lincoln.
“I’m scared of horses,” Lincoln said, then he smiled when Michael told him about a horse by the name of Freckles. “I think he would like you,” Michael said. “I’m going to be a counselor here,” was Lincoln’s spontaneous response. After Michael captured on video the children’s can-do spirit, he realized they had captured his heart, and he was determined to do something more. “There needs to be an annual event to raise funds so more children will have the opportunity to attend this summer camp,” Michael shared. “If you watch the video and are aren’t touched, you just don’t have a heart.” Out of this experience was born the Big Red Smokin’ Blues & BBQ Festival. The event will be a gathering of some of the great blues artists from around the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
The Friday Night Smokin’ All Star Blues Jam will be hosted by Kerrie Lepai and her husband, Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones, both locally and internationally known blues artists. They will bring the blues festival to a crescendo on Saturday night after five other great bands have performed. The Big Red Smokin’ Blues & BBQ Festival looks forward to becoming a statewide and regional event to benefit Lions Club charities. However, this April’s event is focused on increasing the awareness of and sponsorship for more children to attend the Texas Lions Camp.
Michael shared from the Lions Camp pamphlet that, “the camp is dedicated to providing, without charge, a summer camp experience for children with physical disabilities (including hearing and the vision impaired). The camp also serves children with type 1 diabetes and cancer.” Michael added, “The Texas Lions Camp has served the needs of children since The blues and barbecue, the working man’s song and food, are natural collaborators in feeding the heart of the community. 1949, providing a 400-bed residential camping facility located on over 500 acres in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. It is designed to introduce the can-do philosophy to children dealing with special medical conditions.”
Why the mix of the blues with a barbecue cook-off? The blues is about community. The genre originated within the African-American community in the Deep South, and is an incorporation of spirituals, work songs, storytelling and narrative ballads. The genre is all about life, community and overcoming. Also assisting in the promotion of this charity event is Dave Pippin from the nonprofit radio station KNON 89.3 FM. Dave and KNON are on board to do their part to see Michael’s vision for the kids come to fruition. “Not that he needs much help, because the community has been in a buzz about this festival since last October when it was rained out. Every band and blues artist signed back on to do this for the kids,” Dave Pippin added.
The blues and barbecue, the working man’s song and food, are natural collaborators in feeding the heart of the community. The blues tells the stories of people overcoming the troubles and struggles of life, encouraging the next generation to persevere with a can-do attitude. Musicians and the bands that are donating their time and talent to the success of this fundraiser are The Straight Street Blues Band, The Buddy Henderson Trio, Larry Lampkin, Mike Morgan & the Crawl, The Michael Lee Band and The Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones Band & Kerrie Lepai. “It is all about the kids,” Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones and Kerrie Lepai agreed. “It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Big Red on board as a corporate partner for this inaugural charity festival,” Michael Douglas announced. “We are discussing our efforts to make this a great event for years to come,” he added.
In addition, this event will include a 100-percent Payout IBCA-sanctioned BBQ Cook-off and the Kroger People’s Choice BBQ Tasting for participants to judge which competition entry is the best. For two days, the community will enjoy the taste and aroma of smokers competing for top Big Red Smokin’ Blues & BBQ bragging rights and raising funds for the kids to go to summer camp.
The city of Duncanville, the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce, the Duncanville Lions Club, Big Red, blues artists and bands, along with a grand barbecue cook-off, local businesses and individuals in the community are bringing Big Red Smokin’ Blues & BBQ to Duncanville, with every vendor and band returning from the canceled event from October 2015. So bring your lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the fun! They say “it takes a village to raise a child,” and in Duncanville there has always been a can-do attitude. Michael Douglas of the Duncanville Lions Club believes, that together we can do more than raise the spirits of a few physically challenged children — we can raise a village.
Written by Jo Monroe.