Caleb Lee Hutchinson

Caleb Lee Hutchinson is the new closing act for the Saturday night music at the Tri City BBQ Fest, September 20 and 21, in Denison.

Organizers of the Tri City BBQ Fest worked this week to replace Dylan Schneider, who had been scheduled to be the closing act for the Saturday night of the festival but dropped out of the event.

“It can happen occasionally, but we have a good agent and we are adjusting to the situation at hand,” said Evan Blakley, executive director of the Chamber & Development Council (CDC) of Crawford County.

“We knew right away that we would have to find some sort of replacement because we have a certain level of entertainment and value that we like to bring to the festival. Once we say we are going to bring that level of music to the community and to our fans, we would never be content to back down from the promise.”

Blakley said the replacement for Schneider is someone a little bit different – but someone that people may find to be just as interesting and exciting.

Caleb Lee Hutchinson was the runner-up on the television program “American Idol” in 2018. He is 20 years old and has been playing guitar since he was 12.

Blakley said one of the interesting things about Hutchinson is that during the final competition of American Idol last year, the audience learned that he and Maddie Poppe were dating.

Poppe, from Clarksville, Iowa, won the competition.

Blakley said Schneider’s management was asked if he would record a video about his withdrawal from the BBQ Fest, which he did.

“We wanted his fans and our fans to hear directly from him that it was due to Dylan’s management and schedule and nothing that the festival did or did not do,” Blakley said. “They agreed to provide that video and we were grateful for that. I think it explains to all the fans what is going on and indicates that he would maybe like to return in the future and we’re open to that idea, as well.”

The video can be viewed on the Tri City BBQ Fest Facebook page.

Blakley said the festival will not suffer due to the cancelation.

“We’ll have the same number of entertainers and the same quality of entertainment,” he said. “Millions of people around the United States watched Caleb and fell in love with his voice and helped him get to the finals.”

Hutchinson has been vetted by the whole country and should draw a good crowd, he said.

The rest of the festival continues to come together.

All three judges have been chosen for the “Smoky Karaoke” competition.

Ruben Newell, Denison High School instrumental music teacher, and Beth Vogt, a trained singer, will be the judges from the local area.

Matt Weis, the Bacon King of the 2019 Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, will be the third judge.

“He will come in his bacon king costume and provide colorful commentary,” Blakley said.

Several people have submitted entries for the karaoke contest and many have shown interest, but more are needed, he said.

Twenty two teams have confirmed for the KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society) competition and six teams have confirmed for the amateur contest.

Thirteen food vendors are signed up, so far.

Pony rides, a petting zoo and water walking balls have been added to the kids’ zone, which will have a large variety of attractions, Blakley said.

Many volunteers are still needed.

Individuals interesting in signing up to volunteer may do so at

“Most people wait until the last week, but we are asking people to get to us now,” Blakley said. “It makes life a lot easier and more efficient during the festival to have volunteers signed up early. We’re trying to make it easy with the online signup. It takes about 60 seconds to complete the form.”

The 2019 Tri City BBQ Fest takes place on September 20 and 21.

For more information, contact the CDC at 712-263-5621.

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