The Texas Bar-B-Q Festival will begin its four-day run this Thursday, April 21 and continue through Sunday, April 24, at Conn Park, 166 South St. in Vidor, featuring carnival rides, games, food, a variety of vendors, a huge barbecue cook-off and great live music each night. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

Four days of food, fun, music and excitement await as one of the biggest festivals in Orange County kicks off on Thursday.

The Texas Bar B-Q Festival returns to Conn Park, 166 South St. in Vidor and will be open from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., Thursday, April 21; 5 p.m., Friday, April 22, through midnight; Saturday, April 23 from 10 a.m. – midnight; and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday, April 24. Admission is $10 per day for adults and $5 per day for ages six and older. Ages five and younger are admitted free. Admission is free on Sunday only, and parking is free throughout the entire festival.

“The Texas Bar-B-Q Festival has always been a popular activity in the area,” said Derek Veazey, carnival chairperson. “It seems every town or area has its own unique event to celebrate its community, and that is how this started, but it has really grown into something bigger.”

The festival will feature a new carnival provider, Mac’s Carnival and Attractions, which is based in South Dakota, for this year’s event. A carnival mega-pass is available for $60 from the Vidor Chamber of Commerce and allows the purchaser to obtain four unlimited-ride wristbands.

“This is something that Mac’s Carnival and Attractions told us they like to do, and they have some success with it,” Veazey explained. “The purchaser gets the four wristbands to use how they want, whether that is use one wristband each day of the festival or to buy the megapass and give the wristbands to friends and everyone use them at once.”

The festival relocated to the open spaces of Conn Park in 2013, which is located on South Street, the Interstate 10 East feeder road, near Old Highway 90 in Vidor. The festival received a luke-warm reception in its first year at the new location but has met with better results and attendance recently.

The festival will include the always popular Bar-B-Q Cook-Off contest, sanctioned by the IBCA, and approximately 40 teams have already registered for more than $7,000 in cash.

“This is a state championship event and its a really big deal,” Veazey explained. “It’s not backyard barbecue anymore. We have teams travel from as far away as South Texas and from the far east side of Louisiana to get here, so that says a lot about the level of this event now.”

Popular activities such as the horseshoe tournament will be held on Saturday with registration beginning at 10 a.m., and the always competitive washer tournament has just been added to Saturday’s events with sign-up at noon.

A new addition is the Diaper Derby.

Live music is always a big part of the festival each year and this year is no exception. Winners from a talent contest held earlier this month will perform on Thursday or Friday night.

Friday’s headliner is regional Cajun music favorite Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin’ Cajuns, along with Southeast Texas own cover rock band, Mixx Fixxer. On Saturday, the music will really be on fire with regional party cover band Encore performing, along with the kings of ’80s excess, LA Roxx, featuring big hair and an over-the-top production not to be missed.

“It always seemed like the festival has had nothing but country music, so this year we wanted to change things up a little bit,”Veazey added. “Encore and LA Roxx are just great at what they do and so much fun. People will really be surprised at how much fun they are.

“Mixx Fixxer is a really entertaining classic rock band,” he continued. “And we found out how popular Cajun music is when we had Travis Motte and Wayne Toups perform at the festival, so we wanted to bring that back as a treat for everyone. I’ve never seen so many people dance at the festival, until we had those Cajun acts.”

Christian music artists will perform on Sunday beginning at 11 a.m.

There will be various food vendors, along with arts and crafts vendors, and vendors selling a variety of adult beverages.

Guests may bring lawn chairs and blankets to the festival, but coolers will not be permitted.

Call the Vidor Chamber of Commerce at 409-769-6339 for more information.