Barbecue fest draws crowd
Published: Sunday, January 19, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 19, 2003 at 1:11 a.m.
The baked beans were getting cold when Gainesville's Rotary Foundation Fryers were forced to call it quits. The aluminum trays of green beans and potato medley? Hardly touched.
But the ribs, Fryers' signature cuts of pork, stacked high and dripping with Tabasco, tomato, Worcestershire and garlic - they had been gone for hours.
All 108 slabs.
"Shame on them," lamented Shirley Whitfield, a Gainesville resident and self-described connoisseur of the finest baby-backs North Florida has to offer. "We wanted to take some home, but they ran out."
Whether poor planning or hearty appetites, Whitfield wasn't the only hungry grazer at the first North Florida Barbecue Rib Fest, sponsored by Magic 101.3 FM, the Rotary Fryers and Mr. Paper.
Ted Nichols, chairman of the United Gainesville Community Development Corp. and host of the rib fest, said proceeds from Saturday's event would help finance loans to small, private startups in Alachua County.
Nichols estimated nearly 2,000 people attended, spending an average of $5 per person. The day was clearly a success, he said, for United Gainesville and rib grillers alike who filled the parking lots near Santa Fe Community College's downtown Gainesville campus on NW 6th Street and NW 5th Avenue.
"If there was a vote, I'd think we would win," said Willie Cunningham, owner of Eastside Eatery on E. University Avenue, and supplier to the festival of marinated ribs and chicken, corn bread and macaroni.
By 3 p.m., Eastside had already sold nearly 200 dinners, running out of ribs and breasts twice.
While those firing the pits were eager to provide details on the day's financial successes, few were willing to delve into their wood-fired secrets.
"From a typical sauce, we add garlic powder and Tabasco," offered Roger Brower, on the verge of spilling the Fryers' time-honored recipe during a clear moment of weakness. "Then we have a bag of special ingredients," he said, then stopped. "I can't tell you what's in it."
Greg Bruno can be reached at 374-5026 or brunog@ gvillesun.com.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article