TIFTON — After being postponed due to the pandemic, the Rhythm & Ribs Festival returned to Fulwood Park for a weekend of food, fun and a friendly barbecue competition.
Though normally held in early March, the festival had to be postponed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though organizers had barely avoided the onset of the virus in 2020, the pandemic was still too big of a crisis earlier this year to hold such a large gathering.
Despite the date shift, residents of Tifton seemed more than happy to see Rhythm and Ribs make a return Saturday, Oct. 9.
Nearly the entirety of Fulwood Park bustled with vendors and patrons, vendor stalls and tents lining the park’s trails and roads and almost every corner of the park having something to do.
Patrons could browse the handmade crafts of vendors such as Pipkin Woodworks or PCS Creations, play games and participate in activities with their children and friends or partake in the festival’s many food vendors, including not only barbecue but New Orleans-style cooking, cupcakes and shaved ice, and classic festival treats like funnel cakes and fried Oreos.
Local musicians provided accompanying entertainment throughout the entire festival, including Danny Dawson Band, Roosevelt Collier and Scout. The Sunny South Blues Band and Flintlock Annie performed during the festival’s kickoff party Friday, Oct. 8.
The festival hosted its traditional barbecue contest, with more than 30 teams pitting their best barbecue against one another. The competition was split into backyard and professional contests, with each team being judged on its ability to make pork loins, ribs and pulled pork.
The top 10 in each category received cash prizes and a trophy, and a grand champion was decided for each division based on which team had the consistently best barbecue, receiving an additional prize for attaining the title.
White Water Smokers obtained the title of grand champion in the backyard division, earning $1,000, while 319 Q earned the ranking for the professional side, winning $3,000 for its efforts.
Confident that they would be able to hold the festival again next year, the Rhythm & Ribs Festival organizers reported planning to bring things back to normal in 2022, returning the festival to being held in early March.