Arts & Entertainment, City Life

Bob Sykes BBQ and Blues Festival to celebrate anniversary, recognize military

Hundreds turn out each year for the annual Bob Sykes BBQ and Blues Festival in downtown Bessemer.

The 8th Annual Bob Sykes BBQ and Blues Festival will do more than celebrate good food and good blues music when it commences on May 20, 2017 in DeBardeleben Park in Historic Downtown Bessemer. This year’s event will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Bob Sykes Barbecue restaurant in Bessemer.  The restaurant, founded in 1957, has become a landmark in Bessemer. The restaurant was a  member of the inaugural Alabama BBQ Hall of Fame in 2015. “We’re excited to celebrate the 60th birthday of Bob Sykes BBQ at our yearly BBQ and Blues Festival,” said second generation restaurant owner Van Sykes. In addition, the festival will honor National Armed Forces Day by offering discounts to all active and retired service members who present a military ID.  Active and retired military will receive $10 off general admission tickets with a military ID. This year’s festival promises to be one of the biggest yet. Blues musicians set to perform include Chris Simmons, Albert White and the MusicMaker Revue, Eight O’Five Jive, Markey Blue, The Norman Jackson Band and Joe Walker. Gates will open at 11 a.m. and music will start around noon. General admission and VIP tickets can be purchased at or at Bob Sykes Bar BQ Restaurant, 1724 Ninth Avenue North in Bessemer. Children under the age of 12 will be admitted free with a ticketed adult and there is a kid’s corner on site.  Like the restaurant, the BBQ and Blues Festival is becoming a tradition in Bessemer. People from across the Southeast have come to take part in the event. “Each year the festival grows and we couldn’t do it without our sponsors and the support of the community” said Van Sykes. Bob Sykes Barbecue was founded by Van’s parents, Bob and Maxine Sykes. Van Sykes grew up in the restaurant helping his parents and has continued the family tradition. The restaurant is still serving barbecue the old-fashioned way, over a traditional barbecue pit which is extremely time and energy intensive. This method gives the meat a truly unique flavor, said Van. Bob Sykes Barbecue has been featured in national news coverage over the years for its delicious barbecue, sides and desserts. “If you visit Bessemer you will do yourself a disservice by not visiting Bob Sykes,” said  Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley. “Likewise the festival has continued to grow and continues to represent all that is good about the city of Bessemer. So bring your chairs and blankets and come out and have a good time.” A portion of the proceeds will benefit Ady’s Army, a non-profit organization that serves special needs families. Learn more by visiting DeBardeleben Park is located at 1623 Second Avenue North, across from City Hall. Parking is free in downtown Bessemer.

The Norman Jackson Band will be one of the group’s performing in this year’s Bob Sykes BBQ and Blues Festival.