Labadie Rib Fest brings BBQ, music, and fundraising for nonprofits to Veterans Memorial Park in July

Whether you’ve got a taste for ribs, an itch to dance in the summer sun, or want to take the youngsters to play in the Kid Zone, the Labadie Rib Fest has something for you.

The Rib Fest returned in 2022, after a 10-year absence.

Jay Samborn, who is coordinating the July 27-30 festival, says he expects this year’s event to be bigger and better than ever. The 2023 event includes a statewide cornhole tournament, concerts, motorcycle rally, and, of course, delicious barbecue ribs.

The festival takes place in Veterans Memorial Park on Bay City’s West Side. This year, it includes four nights of concerts featuring six national bands. The musical acts include The Little River Band, Rodney Atkins, Lita Ford, Dokken, Molly Hatchet, and Foghat.

Inside the entertainment tent, local bands Road Dawgz, Double Wide Ride, 2nd Hand Band, and the Swaggering Rogues will perform.

The full schedule of concerts is online. Concert tickets also are available online.

During the day, family activities will be available throughout the festival grounds. New events this year include the Michigan Corn Hole League holding a two-day tournament on Fri., July 28 and Sat., July 29, Samborn says.

The Bay Area Runners Club is holding a 5-K race on Sat., July 29, Samborn says.

Of course, you can’t have a rib fest without ribs. This year, 10 teams hailing from Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas are cooking up ribs to enter into the competition at the center of the festival.

The Celebrity Rib Cook Off is Fri., July 28 from noon to 1 p.m. Admission is free to the celebrity cook-off, which raises money for local charities.

The barbecue vendors in the competition include:
  • That Guy’s BBQ from Bay City
  • Smokin’ Bob-B-Que from Gladwin
  • Fat Matt’s BBQ from Munger
  • After Hours from Orrville Ohio
  • Blazin Bronco BBQ from Port St. Lucie, Fla.
  • Cowboys BBQ from Weatherford, Texas
  • Johnson’s BBQ from Chesapeake, Va.
  • Off The Bone BBQ from Winchester, Ohio
  • Outlaw BBQ from Erie, Penn.
  • Swine BBQ from Medina, Ohio

“Rib Fest exists to better Bay City and is powered with the help of a number of non-profit partners and volunteers,” Samborn says.

In addition to music and food, the festival features a Little Piggy Marketplace with 40 area craft vendors and a kids zone with a petting zoo, pig races, bubble party, and more.

Samborn is working on a Ride to Rib Fest Motorcycle Rally. Last year, the rally drew about 100 motorcycles. Samborn is hoping for 500 cyclists this summer.

The festival is open Thurs., July 26 from 4 to 11 p.m.; Fri., July 28 from noon to 11 p.m.; Sat., July 29 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sun., July 30 from noon to 10 p.m. Daily tickets are $10 each. A weekend pass is $30.

Non-profit partners include:

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