Barbecue, bands, and the Bay City riverside await you at the Labadie Rib Fest this summer

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get those bibs and wet naps ready in anticipation of an event making its way back to Bay City this summer after a decade hiatus.

Though the name is different, the Labadie Rib Fest promises to bring back some of the same nostalgia of the Pig Gig in years past, along with new and entertaining twists.

Co-coordinators Joel Tacey and Jay Samborn are thrilled to bring the charity event back to life in Veterans Memorial Park July 28 through 31. They are currently busy locking in sponsors, partners, volunteers, and highly-anticipated entertainment.

Tacey, who is a traveling magician by day, has wanted to make this a reality since the event ended in 2012.

“Like other people 10 years ago, I was sad to see it leave. But unlike other people, I tried to save the event. I met with some of those involved, and pitched ideas to continue, but I couldn’t get anyone to take the full leap with me.

“For 10 years I have dreamt of bringing it back … and finally Jay Samborn and I said, ‘Let’s do it!’ I am so proud to be part of the team bringing this back.”

Tacey promises the event will have something for everyone, whether they are looking for food or entertainment.

“Rib competitors will be there from all over the place, local, regional, and national, with a lot of different foods that people will love. There will be a refreshment tent with non-stop bands and DJs all day and night. Every minute there will be multiple activities across the Rib Fest happening for kids and adults … This is a true family festival for all ages. Kids, grown-ups, and grandparents will all have a good time,” says Tacey.

In addition, national bands will be booked to play the event, adding yet another draw for local live music lovers.

Perhaps most importantly, the Rib Fest is a charity event at heart, raising funds for local charities, large and small, that impact the area’s families and children in very direct ways, Tacey says.

“Proceeds go to pay for the event and to the charities – that’s it. The more successful the event is, the more proceeds there will be to share. That is a critical aspect of this event. We want our community to benefit in every possible way.”

Labadie is the title sponsor for the event, and Tacey says the company’s support is critical to Rib Fest’s success for several reasons.

“They bridge the connection between what was the Pig Gig and the Rib Fest. Then, of course, their financial and personal support. They will support with volunteers, technical support, sales, everything.”

Tacey and Samborn continue to seek other sponsors and partners to provide funds, products, or services in exchange for event perks, advertising, signage, or other recognition. Likewise, they will need an army of volunteers to make the event run smoothly.

“Everyone is welcome to volunteer: individuals, school groups, church groups. We want all those who want to be a volunteer, partner, or sponsor to be a part of it. If anybody wants a role, we will find you one,” Tacey says.

Interested parties should email to express interest and secure a role.

Ticket prices will be identical to 10 years ago: ages 13 and up will be $10 in advance and $12 the week of the event. Kids 12 and under can attend for free. Tickets are expected to go on sale soon online, and other ticket packages will be announced at that time. The event's website will be growing weekly with more announcements and schedules, as well as the event's Facebook page, so Tacey encourages the community to like and share the page.

 “Bay City has been amazing to me for my entire life, for the last 44 years, and I look at it as my way to give back to the city for all I have gotten to this point in my life … We are taking steps to make sure this event never ends, continuing long after Jay and I are gone.”

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.