Ribfest food lineup and music set times: Barenaked Ladies, Josh Turner lead the way

Get the lowdown on when to get to Vinoy Park to see Los Lonely Boys, Chris Janson and Robby Steinhardt — and what night you can save the most money.
Published November 5 2018

Ribfest is turning 30, but you guys are getting the gift.

To celebrate the festival’s third decade of butt-smoking rock ’n’ roll in St. Petersburg, organizers have dropped opening-night tickets to a fittingly old-school $5 in Vinoy Park. Admission will set you back $20 when bigger bands hit the stage on Saturday and Sunday (the fancy “Boss Hog” tickets runs from $75 to $325). But if you’re just there for the ’cue and the ambience, Friday’s your night to hit the town.

Ribfest has been a major draw in downtown St. Petersburg, bringing together big musical acts and competitive barbecue, two great things that go great together. It has also allowed the Northeast Exchange Club to donate $4.8 million to local charities in the last three decades, thanks to the all-volunteer work force.

On the food side, look for award-winning ribbers like Blazin’ Bronco out of Cleveland; Cowboys BBQ & Rib Co from Fort Wayne, Texas; Desparado’s from Hinckley, Ohio; Johnson’s BBQ from Chesapeake, Va.; Texas Outlaw out of Elizabethtown, Ky.; The Tender Rib from Brandywine, Md.; and our hometown heroes, Fat Fred’s Famous BBQ out of St. Petersburg.

If barbecue isn’t your jam, other food vendors will be on hand, a new feature this year, offering kettle corn, churros, paella, empanadas, pizza and loads of other foods.

On the music side, here’s a look at the Ribfest 2019 main stage lineup by day.

FRIDAY

Kansas vocalist and stringmaster Robby Steinhardt will headline at 8:30 p.m. Before him, you’ll get tribute bands the Sting Police (7:40) and the U2Xperience (6:40), as well as Sarasota groovesters Reverend Barry and the Funk.

SATURDAY

Ribfest’s popular country day moves from Sunday to Saturday, with earnest baritone Josh Turner (Long Black Train) leading the way at 8:30 p.m. ACM-nominated trio Runaway June plays at 6:45. The Allman Brothers Band tribute Dreams injects a little rock at 5. Nabbing a curiously low afternoon slot is Chris Janson, whose hits include Buy Me a Boat and Drunk Girl, at 3 p.m. And Matt Stillwell kicks things off at 1.

SUNDAY

No word on whether any ribbers will be dishing out chickity-China (the Chinese chicken) this year, but we do know Barenaked Ladies (One Week, It’s All Been Done) will be closing out the festival at 6:30 p.m. Los Lonely Boys (Heaven) and another cover band, the Pat Benatar tribute Fire and Ice, round out Sunday’s bill.

Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and at noon on Saturday and Sunday. 501 Bayshore Drive NE, St. Petersburg, (727) 528-3828, ribfest.org.

Laura Reiley contributed to this report. Contact Jay Cridlin at cridlin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

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