Do you go to Ribfest for the award-winning ribs by the some of the best barbecue teams near and far? (Guessing it's not for the deep-fried Twinkies.) Or do you go for the live music? Heck, the amazing view from Vinoy Park along St. Petersburg's waterfront is all the reason you need. Here's a breakdown of what you'll find at the 23rd annual Northeast Exchange Club event.
Times staff writer
Many of this weekend's ribbers compete on a national circuit. At Ribfest they'll barbecue some 5 tons of pork, most served with variations on a tomato-based sauce. As for the smoke, hickory is the most popular, but other wood, like cherry or pecan, imbue the meat with subtler flavors. So ask vendors what wood they're using and compare.
Aussom Aussie: Sydney, Australia
Big Boned BBQ: Mixon, Tenn.
Blazin' Bronko: Cleveland
Camp 31: Toronto
Top Chop BBQ: Tampa
Desperado's: Hinckley, Ohio
Fat Fred's Famous BBQ: St. Petersburg
J&J Bar-B-Que: Bradenton
Johnson's BBQ: Chesapeake, Va.
Porky N' Beans: Parma, Ohio
Rib King: Spartanburg, S.C.
Texas Outlaw: Elizabethtown, Ky.
Other food, if you care: Funnel cakes, elephant ears, corn on the cob, ice cream, onion rings, sweet potato fries, Texas fries, strawberry shortcakes, kettle corn, deep fried candy bars, Oreos & Twinkies
Rockin' Pig Saloon: It will have liquor as well as beer and wine, located in the middle of the park.
On Friday night, sticky-fingered attendees can see Jonny Lang (7 p.m.), the baby-faced electric blues man with the weathered growl, and Buddy Guy (8:30 p.m.), the Chicago showman considered to be the bridge between blues and rock 'n' roll, at least according to two small-time guys named Hendrix and Clapton. But the biggest story here might just be Saturday's headliner Heart (8 p.m.), whose sisterhood of the traveling Wilsons has given us hot, confident hits like Barracuda, Crazy on You and Magic Man. They perform with special guest Shawn Colvin. Then genre-crossing Georgia boy and former PGA golfer Colt Ford (3:30 p.m.) will go a little bit country, a little bit "hick-hop" on tailgate-style tunes, with Montgomery Gentry (6 p.m.) closing out Sunday.
Carole Liparoto, Times correspondent
The rest of the lineup
Friday: Best Day Ever (1 p.m.), Den of Thieves (2:30 p.m.), Talk to Mark (4:30 p.m.) and Come Back Alice (6 p.m.)
Saturday: Drive (12:30 p.m.), Sheri (2 p.m.), Trop Rock Junkies (3 p.m.), Santana original lead singer Gregg Rolie (4 p.m.), Radio Crime (5:30 p.m.), Christian Connor (6 p.m.) and Soul Purpose (7:30 p.m.)
Sunday: BullsEye Ride (noon), Matt Stillwell (2 p.m.), soulRcoaster (3 p.m.) and Gamble Creek (5 p.m.)
IF YOU GO