Chief News Editor ‘23
As Holy Cross students, parents, and alumni were tailgating between cornhole tosses and “go cross go” cheers, Worcester was having a party of its own. Saturday afternoon saw the 3rd annual Beats and Barbecue festival go down in the Worcester commons– in Holy Cross speak, that’s only a few blocks away from both The Edge and White Eagle. Families, vendors, and locals poured in to see local talent and up-and-coming gems perform outside before the Worcester chill freezes us all over,
This year’s Beats and Barbecue festival was a lively return to form– the festival hasn’t taken place since 2018, when Styles P graced the steps outside City Hall for a concert.
The 11:00 A.M. start was a gem to anyone whose Friday night was lowkey enough to make that early morning drive. Most people were waiting until the headliners made their way to the stage, which would happen later in the afternoon, so early risers were treated to full access to the setting up process. A decadent display of chairs with much needed umbrellas decorated the soon-to-be-ice-skating-rink at the center of the Commons’, and for a second it felt like Summer never began fading. Jewelry pop-up stands, merch areas, and stands of the best food Worcester can offer began littering the walkways that bring you in, around, and out of the park. The first soundchecks and live performances provided nice background music to the steady dribble of concertgoers coming in as well, and it seemed that the DJs had the same contagious energy with 10 people listening as with 100.
Once the event started, however, this summertime feeling only doubled. Perfectly mixed sets from industry mainstays like Elzhi and Nottz, fit with some very talented live instrumentation, kept the audience’s energy high. Attendees sang along loud and proud, especially when Grammy award winning singer Kendra Foster took the stage. Yet it was rapper, singer, TikToker, and artistic extraordinaire Iniko who truly stole the show. You may have seen their freestyles pop-up on your For you Page, or maybe videos of them singing covers in her backyard. On stage, however, their presence was at a whole different level.
The music wasn’t the only highlight of their performance, though: Iniko brought a number of fans from the crowd near the stage for hugs, pictures, and a generous amount of small talk. Judging by the crowd, it seemed that a lot of these attendees had shown up just for them, and they were just as excited to meet them as the fans were. With a handful of “Worcester is so fun” and “I love you Worcester” comments, it’s clear that our city made a mark.
The music was surely the main stage, but other activities provided a variety of options. Movies like Get Out, Juice, and The Best Man were played on the big screen while performances were going on. Eventually, the crowd spilled out onto the surrounding Front and Franklin Streets as attendees moved back and forth between the City Hall entrance and the main stage area.
Suffice it to say, this year’s return was a major success, and yet another reminder to get out into the city once in a while and experience Worcester’s many offerings. While the tailgate offered its own taste of end-of-Summer fun, this year’s Beats and Barbecue fest was a not-to-miss serving of impressive talent and engaging entertainment.