This past Saturday at the always tantalizing, 7th Annual Smoke Under the Oaks Rib Fest, LaBelle’s best small-town smokers filled Barron Park with the sweet smell of barbecue. There were crowds of smiling faces, anxiously waiting in lines for a chance to feast on the most delicious ribs around. The Judges most definitely had their work cut out for them, as the number of teams signed up for this year’s contest had doubled.
Some sweet or tangy, others with a spicy kick, there was a huge variety of melt-in-your-mouth rib styles and flavors. Several teams, like Grandma’s Grove and Primo’s BBQ, sold out of their mouthwatering ribs quickly. Swamp Pirates, Blue Ribin’, and the Good Old Boys in Brown, worked diligently to serve the horde of hungry barbecue lovers.
“Smoking 25 slabs of ribs is a hard job!” said a member of the 2nd Hand Smoke team. “So is eating them!” yelled one of the ravenous rib-eaters, from the back of the crowd. Lines of hungry, ticket holding carnivores grew long, but most knew it was well worth the wait.
After the grueling task of tasting ribs from 20 different teams, the judges chose their favorites. The gorgeous trophies, made by Caloosa Custom Cabinets, were awarded to Citrus Smokers for 3rd place, Primo’s Bar-B-Que for 2nd place, and Sweet Sugar Swine for 1st place. The coveted People’s Choice Award went out to Grills Gone Wild, as the crowd erupted with elation.
This sunny, fun-filled day had longtime attendees remarking about how pleased they were to see how this annual cookoff has grown over the years, and that the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corporation had added more vendors and new activities. Ribs weren’t the only battle amidst the smoke-filled trees. There was also a Cornhole tournament, where Bryan Stafford and his son Wyatt fought to gain the title of tournament champions after a long day of competing under the smoke-filled trees. From the excellent food and cold drinks, to the awesome tunes and of course the amazing barbecue, this year’s Ribfest was an all-around success.