Fairs & Festivals

Gulfcoast Rhythm & Ribfest announces move to Bradenton from Palmetto

Last year, as usual, the Gulfcoast Rhythm & Ribfest drew crowds estimated at more than 10,000 to the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto.

That's unlikely to happen again this year for three reasons.

Just before Christmas, festival officials announced the 2015 even was scheduled for Oct. 9-11 -- six months later than expected. An announcement on the festival Facebook page resulted in questions but no replies.

On Tuesday, the Ribfest Facebook page revealed a new name: The Gulf Coast Rhythm & Ribs Music Fest. A few minutes later, festival officials announced through Facebook the festival would be held at Bradenton's McKechnie Field -- not Palmetto.

"New for this year, a great new location," the post said. "This year's event will be held at the newly renovated McKechnie Field."

So the festival has a new

name, new time of year and new location.

Festival officials didn't immediately return voice mail messages. So it's not known whether the festival's successful formula of great food and big-name rock, country and hip-hop acts will undergo any changes.

Among the recent music headliners for the former Ribfest have been Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Doug E. Fresh, Tracy Lawrence and Foghat. The 2015 headliners have not yet been announced.

The festival website, gulfcoastribfest.com, still lists the "Ribfest" name and the Manatee County Fairgrounds location.

Dave Gustafson, executive director of the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, said he has known about the location change for a while.

"For me, what's important is that it's still in Manatee County, and it's still within an easy drive for our residents and visitors," Gustafson said.

Gustafson said he wasn't aware of any problems the festival had with its Palmetto venue, and noted the DeSoto Seafood Festival recently made the opposite move -- from Bradenton to Palmetto.

"Sometimes," he said, "you just want to shake things up.'

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.