On the first Saturday of October, more than 50 barbecue teams from across the nation meet on the greenway in the historic Mississippi Delta town of Cleveland, MS, to compete for over $25,000 in cash and prizes, and bragging rights, as kings and queens of the Delta BBQ Battle, a multi-city competition that takes place throughout the year. With the winners of this competition moving on to the championships in Memphis, the Delta BBQ Battle, and its last stop in Cleveland, is kind of a big deal.
But this Memphis BBQ Network-sanctioned event is just one of the reasons that thousands of folks will descend on Cleveland this weekend. It is Octoberfest, after all, and that means great food, cold beer and live music—all located in a downtown full of shops, restaurants, and even a five-story downtown boutique hotel with a rooftop bar.
Octoberfest, now in its 40th year, boasts an arts and crafts market with hundreds of vendors, a substantial food court, a lively beer garden, and live music throughout the day. With multiple smaller regional and local events bookending the festival weekend, Cleveland has become quite the early-fall destination of choice in the Delta region.
And Octoberfest offers something special with its music line up. While the Mississippi Delta is widely known for blues music, the region is also home to a strong Americana music scene. Not quite blues and not quite country or rock ‘n’ roll, Americana is a music genre that encompasses traditional music styles, including folk, country, bluegrass, blues, gospel, singer-songwriter, and roots music. Some good examples of Americana artists would be Lucinda Williams and John Prine.
With all of Delta music, food, and vibe condensed into one weekend in October, Octoberfest is certainly a great time to visit Cleveland. But, truthfully, all of this and more happens throughout the year in this out-of-the-ordinary small Delta town, and any time is worth a visit.