Fairs & Festivals

Rib lovers converge on fairgrounds for BBQ festival

PALMETTO — Trophies lined tables as people waited in line to place an order for ribs and other barbecue at the 2009 Gulf Coast Rhythm and Rib Fest at the Manatee County Fairground on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s something to do on a Saturday,” said Jane Herrin, who sat with her family eating at one of many tables lining the arena. “We don’t eat ribs often. That’s why it’s a treat.”

When asked what makes good ribs, she said, “Someone else cooking it for you.”

There were eight different BBQ vendors featured at the event. Most of the vendors were from southeastern states. Signs were stacked high promoting racks of ribs and first place entries in other cities.

Al and Diana Bibey made a point of eating at all the vendors. They ordered samplers.

“We would eat when we were waiting in the next line,” said Al Bibey as he walking out the gate with rib dinners in a bag.

The couple’s favorite spot was a locally owned T&L’s BBQ located on 14th Street West, owned by Tiki and Linda Curry.

Bibey said he liked the restaurant’s use of two different sauces served on platters.

“One was a little spicy, but not too spicy. When you bite into it, you taste them both,” he said.

Money from the festival will go towards the 13th Avenue Community Center in Bradenton, said Scott Works, an organizer for the event.

“A lot of the kids who go to the center come from broken homes. All of the money raised goes towards the capital building fund,” he said. The center is in a building that is about 75 years old.

The festival continues today. The entertainment line-up features jazz acts. The acts includes: 1 p.m. AJ & The Automatics, 2:30 p.m. G-Force, 4:30 p.m. Eric Darius and 6:30 p.m. Avant. Admission to the event is $10 at the gate or $5 if tickets are purchased in advance at 7-Eleven convenience stores.