Monday, August 20, 2007 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . August 20, 2007 . . . The best of true blues and barbecue comes to the Tri-State September 14-16, as Turfway Park and Diamond D'z Event Planners present the first annual So Long Summer Rib Cook-off and Blues Bash.
Sponsored by GFS Marketplace, the three-day festival will take place trackside at Turfway Park. Five national award-winning traveling rib teams will compete for prizes and the People's Choice Award, and a full slate of local blues bands will take to the Guitar Center Stage.
The coveted People's Choice Award is also a bonus for festival-goers, who will drop their ballot in buckets at each team’s tent. One ballot will be drawn from the winning team's bucket, sending one lucky voter home with a Weber grill and accessories from Ace Hardware, a $2,000 value.
Proceeds from the festival benefit Goodwill Industries and The Family Nurturing Center, both under the United Way banner, and the Cincy Blues Society.
"Barbecue and blues are both American art forms," said Dave Thibodeau of Diamond D'z, "and celebrating them together like this gives us a chance to help some great charities. The Family Nurturing Center works to prevent child abuse so kids can grow up safe and become good citizens. Goodwill provides jobs and helps people afford necessities they might otherwise struggle to buy. And the Cincy Blues Society works to keep a uniquely American form of music alive through programs in schools. To help these groups do their work while eating slabs of award-winning ribs and mellowing out to the blues—it’s hard to beat that!"
Thibodeau hopes to raise $6,000 to $10,000 for each of the charities this first year and said he looks forward to doubling or tripling those amounts in future years. Similar established festivals around the country draw between 300,000 and 600,000 visitors every year with as many as 80 rib teams competing.
"The teams are flamboyant and fun," said Thibodeau. "They’re showmen, but they take their work very seriously. Bragging rights are as important as the prizes."
The teams expected at Turfway include Billy Bones, Famous Dave’s, Jr.'s Wood Fired BBQ, Damn Yankee BBQ Team, and Paul Mackay, the "Aussom Aussie." In 25 years of competition, Billy Bones has won more than 200 awards, including 50 first-place honors. Dave Anderson of Famous Dave's was Minnesota and the Dakotas' 1997 Entrepreneur of the Year. The Aussom Aussie has been putting his slabs and traditional Australian sauce up against American ribs for more than 15 years. Jr.'s is famous for hickory-smoked slabs. The Damn Yankee team was born in the South and has a decade of competition behind them. Additional vendors include Budweiser, Gary's World Famous Food, and Graeter's.
Thibodeau has lined up a dozen local blues bands for the Rib Cook-off and Blues Bash. Among those scheduled to appear are Memphis Blues Challenge Award winner Sonny Moorman, Malkum Gibson and the Mighty Juke Band, John Redell and The Company He Keeps, the Jon Justice Band, and the Medicine Men, the band established by the late H-Bomb Ferguson.
Also sponsoring the festival are Kroger, Bob Boswell's State Farm Insurance Agency, Stylistic Designs Hair Salon, radio stations WEBN and Fox 92.5, Courtyard by Marriott, and Queen City Propane.
The festival runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 am to 11 pm. Music begins at 1:30 pm on Friday and at 6:15 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Admission to the festival area at Turfway Park is $4. Children under 7 are admitted free. Parking is free.
Admission to the track for the days' races, including the Marfa Stakes on Saturday, is free as usual.
Turfway Park is located just off I-75 at Exit 182 in Florence, Kentucky.