JONESBORO — The Downtown Jonesboro BBQ Fest will return for the first time since 2019, festival chairman Tim McCall told The Sun Thursday.

The festival had been an annual fall event since its 2009 inception as a celebration of Jonesboro’s sesquicentennial and attracts thousands of visitors from throughout the region. This will be the 13th festival.

But the coronavirus pandemic prevented the festival in 2020, and continued uncertainty over the disease caused organizers to cancel the 2021 event.

“We’re definitely on go to have it,” McCall said of this year’s event, scheduled for Sept. 23-24. “We’re going to have two nights of music as we have in the past.”

McCall said the festival committee was finalizing contracts for headline performers and could announce the acts in the next week or so.

Past performers have included FUEL, Smash Mouth, Scotty McCreery, Brett Michaels, Brothers Osborne, The Commodores, Lee Brice, .38 Special, Rick Springfield, Easton Corbin and Night Ranger.

The festival also hosts the Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned Arkansas State Championship.

The deadline for vendors to apply for participation in the festival is Sept. 1.

In addition to headline performers, McCall said several local performers will hit one of the two stages for the event.

“I expect we’ll have more bands this time than we have had in the past,” McCall said.

The Jonesboro Advertising and Promotion Commission and several local businesses provide the funding for the free entertainment.

Applications and entry forms for the event can be found on the festival’s social media page: downtownjonesborobbqfest.