On Friday night, the mouth-watering aroma of slow cooked BBQ will begin to waft across the south end of Fort Myers Beach. Originating from Santini Plaza, slowly but surely the delicious smoke will slowly make its way across the island, with the result being that by Saturday morning residents, visitors and snowbirds will all awaken with an irresistible craving that only one thing can satisfy. Is it mind control? The zombie apocalypse? Nope – it’s the return of the beach’s annual Smokin’ in the Mangroves competition and – not to worry – organizer Bonnie Roberts assures us there’ll be plenty to go around!
From 9am to 2pm this Saturday, March 5, the best of the best BBQ chefs from all over Florida will be set up in Santini Plaza to compete for trophies and the coveted People’s Choice Award – with the pros going head-to-head with backyard teams looking to make a name for themselves in BBQ glory.
“This year we have four professional teams, two of whom are former first-place winners: our own Bonez Brothers BBQ – who has won our Smokin’ in the Mangroves competition for the past four years, and Big Papa’s BBQ – who won Grand Champion in the USA,” Bonnie told us. “We’re also excited to have four Backyard Competitors, including Wild Fire BBQ and Swamp Gators.”
In addition to the delicious BBQ, Bonnie told us the event will also include an amazing lineup of vendors selling everything from homemade crafts to fresh veggies and seafood.
“The response from the vendors for the street market has again been overwhelming – we have a quite a lineup of vendors with lots of new and different participants,” she said. “The Bugtussle Ramblers will be providing the Bluegrass entertainment and we will have local island Celebrity Judges for the chicken, ribs and pork divisions. Plus, all of the competitors will be vending their fantastic BBQ to all attendees.”
The trophy awards ceremony is at 2:00pm, followed by the People’s Choice Award as a ‘grand finale’ to the day.
The most coveted People’s Choice Award is decided by the public so be certain to sample the BBQ and then come by the tent next to the Bluegrass Stage to vote,” she said. “Come on down and enjoy a great day of Bluegrass and BBQ!”
Keri Hendry Weeg