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Tampa Bay area festivals offer guilty pleasures


Barbecue is just part of the draw for the Northeast Exchange Clubs's 20th annual Ribfest at Vinoy Park, 701 Bayshore Drive NE, in downtown St. Petersburg. The three-day charity fundraiser features barbecue chefs from all over, classic bands and car and motorcycle shows as well as a family fun zone.

The basics

Gates open at 11 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and close after the last musical act each night. Tickets are $10 in advance at Wireless Toyz stores, online at or by phone at (727) 342-5675. (Handling charges apply to online and phone orders.) Tickets are $15 at the gate; children 12 and younger are free with an adult. For more information, call (727) 528-3828 or go online to

The music

Performance and show times are subject to change.

Friday: noon, Urban Gypsies; 6 p.m., Sandy Atkinson; 7 p.m., Greg Billings Band; 8 p.m., Natalie Stovall; 8:30 p.m., STYX.

Saturday: noon, Tampa Taiko; 1 p.m., the Bacardi Boys; 2 p.m., Natalie Stovall; 3 p.m., Devil's Highway; 4 p.m., Blackfoot; 5:30 p.m., Wall of Echoes; 6:30 p.m., 3 Story Fall; 7:30 p.m., Emily's Ashes; 8:30 p.m., Doobie Brothers.

Sunday: 1 p.m., Sheri and the Vision; 2 p.m., Asia, featuring John Payne; 3 p.m., Dr. Dave Band; 4 p.m., Boyce Avenue; 5:30 p.m., Natalie Stovall; 6:30 p.m., Little River Band.

The food

A dozen vendors are onboard to serve up Ribfest's signature dish: Aussom Aussie, Sydney, Australia; Big Boned BBQ, Mixon, Tenn.; Blazin' Bronko, Cleveland; Camp 31, Toronto, Canada; 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, Spartanberg, S.C.; Smoken Dude, Bensalem, Pa.; and Texas Outlaw, Elizabethtown, Ky.

The rest

Classic cars will be on display all day Saturday; motorcycles will be featured Sunday. Entries are accepted through the Web site.

Children's entertainer Shana Banana will perform, and kids will get a chance to meet Raymond from the Rays, Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer. The Family Fun Zone also features inflatables, carnival games, arts and crafts and kid-friendly food for sale.

Stone Crab Jam

Set aside your diet for a day to celebrate a new tradition in Crystal River: the Stone Crab Jam. The streets of downtown Crystal River will be closed for the party, which benefits the Save Three Sisters Springs Foundation and Kings Bay Rotary Club charities. The Save Three Sisters Springs project aims to purchase the 57 acres surrounding the Crystal River springs to protect it from future development.

The basics

The music gets cranking at 4 p.m. and festivities run until 11 p.m. Saturday on Citrus Avenue west of U.S. 19. Tickets are $5 (ages 4 and younger are free) and can be purchased in advance at locations throughout Crystal River. See for details.

The music

Bands will be featured on three stages (performances and show times are subject to change): 4 p.m., Rock Steady (classic rock), Dim Applz (reggae, alternative), Branded (country, Southern rock); 7:45 p.m., the Mick Sharp Band (blues, rock 'n' roll), the Tammy Hatch Band (blues, rock 'n' roll), Kool Daze (classic rock 'n' roll).

The food

Stone crabs are, of course, on the menu, but several local restaurants will have more to offer, including crab cakes, gumbo, shrimp, clams and fried chicken. Food is not included in the admission ticket price. Also featured will be a chowder cookoff, with samples available for $1.

The rest

Gator fans, have no fear. The Stone Crab Jam has you covered with the Florida-South Carolina football game (a 3:30 p.m. start) showing on a 10-foot screen.

For those not glued to the game, there will be shopping with local artists and craftsmen on hand, and a fire truck, mermaid booth and free ice cream to keep the kids entertained.

Cigar Heritage Festival

If you're in need of a victory cigar (baby on the way? finally sold your house?), stop by the 10th annual Cigar Heritage Festival in Ybor City. The festival, hosted by the Ybor City Museum Society, celebrates Tampa's status as the cigar capital of the world and offers a variety of cigars and accessories for sale.

The basics

Cigar City magazine and Arturo Fuente kick things off with Cigars and Stars from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday at Ybor City Museum State Park Garden, 1818 East Ninth Ave. Tickets are $50 in advance, $60 at the door, and include a cigarmaking contest and demonstrations, casino games, silent auction, appetizers and drinks as well as complimentary cigars from Arturo Fuente, J.C. Newman, Ashton and Tampa Sweethearts Cigar Co. Tickets can be purchased at

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in Ybor City's Centennial Park, on Ninth Avenue between 18th and 19th streets. Admission is free, though donations to the Ybor City Museum Society are suggested.

The cigars

Shop for a variety of cigars, including Cuesta Rey, Arturo Fuente, Rocky Patel, Thompson Cigars, Camacho, 601 and more, as well as cigar accessories. Also, join Cigar Dave, host of the Smoke This! nationally syndicated radio show, for a live broadcast from noon to 2 p.m.

The rest

Not everything at the festival revolves around cigars: There also will be tours of the Ybor City Museum ($3), Sicilian winemaking, sausagemaking and cooking demonstrations (another nod to Tampa's past) from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the museum garden, a charity beer garden, children's activities and a game zone featuring NCAA football games, poker, dominoes and more.

Tampa Bay area festivals offer guilty pleasures 11/12/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2008 9:14pm]
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