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BBQ & Blues Bring Out a Crowd

Thousands of area residents, including 3-year-old Tyla Ozgen and her father, Tolga, enjoyed live music, activities and down-home barbecue at Westport's third annual Blues, Views and BBQ Festival .

The three-day event, which kicked off Friday with a Blues Traveler concert at the Levitt Pavilion, was organized by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association.

"I know that approximately 6,000 people attended on Saturday, the first day. There were probably at least as many that attended on Sunday," said Emily Hamilton Laux, communications and marketing director for the festival. "The Blues Traveler concert was sold out -- there were 1,200 people for that."

Held on the grounds of the Levitt Pavilion and the Westport Public Library, this year's festival was sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society -- the country's premier barbecue organization -- and featured the amateur backyard "Cookin' for a Cause" competition, the Pro Invitational competition for certified grill masters and the Pro-Am Invitational "Throwdown," where amateur teams competed against the pros.

Kids got to show off their BBQ skills in the "Kids Q" cookoff. Proceeds from the competitions were donated to Westport's Emergency Food Distribution Program, also known as the Food Closet, founded by the Westport Woman's Club.

Aside from two full days of live music and all you can eat barbecue, the festival featured an array of kid and teen activities, live cooking demos, a food court, street performers and of course, a mechanical bull.

Proceeds from the Blues Traveler concert went to benefit the Levitt Pavilion. The Westport Public Library and Builders Beyond Borders, a Norwalk-based nonprofit, also benefited from the weekend's events.

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