Food, fun and BBQ

Community turns out for BBQ & Family Fun Fest in Estero

Laura Gates/Banner Correspondent (3)
Gage Andrews and Alexia Petit enjoy festival food at the BBQ & Family FunFest at Estero Community Park March 23.

Laura Gates/Banner Correspondent (3) Gage Andrews and Alexia Petit enjoy festival food at the BBQ & Family FunFest at Estero Community Park March 23.

— Three of the vendors vying for bragging rights went traditional, sending a take-out box full of saucy, seasoned ribs. The other four entrants sent assortment platters to the judges, throwing in barbecued chicken, bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers and even some collard greens with savory meats.

The judges first noted each dish’s eye appeal before taking a whiff to catch the saucy scents. Then it was time to sample a bite from each, carefully examining the texture and flavors. Judging was complicated by powerful winds which blew plates and napkins as judges sampled each entry.

When members of the Rotary Club of Estero tallied up the scores, they discovered an unanticipated result. For the first time, two vendors had tied for top honors.

Todd Noon of Bonez Brothers BBQ shared the first place trophy with Southern Boys BBQ, as announced by Estero Rotary Club President Sally Smith during the BBQ & Family FunFest March 23.

Todd Noon of Bonez Brothers BBQ shared the first place trophy with Southern Boys BBQ, as announced by Estero Rotary Club President Sally Smith during the BBQ & Family FunFest March 23.

Bonez Brothers BBQ, with its “redneck” style eats, and Southern Boys BBQ, a team of firefighters from San Carlos Park, ended up sharing the title. Rotary Club President Sally Smith promised to order another First Place trophy to be delivered later this week.

Now in its third year, the BBQ & Family FunFest has become the Rotary Club’s signature event, closing out “season” with a party in the park which benefits children’s charities.

“It’s all going for the kids,” Smith said.

Both food and entertainment at the BBQ Fest offered something to please every member of the family. Car enthusiasts admired autos from Corvettes of Naples and Gulf Shore Mustang Club. Kids bounced to the sky on a bungee trampoline, and an array of musical acts played on stage throughout the eight-hour fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Estero.

Festival goers also could admire hundreds of art pieces made by local students at the Estero Festival of the Arts pavilion.

“The mission of the art show is to bring out the creativity in children and to respond to the creativity of these students,” said show organizer Beverly MacNellis. “We respond to sports -- football and athletic achievement -- but we don’t respond to the creative child. It’s the creative child who our best science will come from. The creative child thinks outside the box and solves problems.”

MacNellis applauded local elementary art teachers, who foster creativity while seeing each of their nearly 900 students just once every eight days. Lee County School Board member Cathleen Morgan served as one of the art show judges.

“I love to see what these kids can do,” she said.

Thanks to a sponsorship from Extra Space Storage, MacNellis was able to award a $25 gift certificate to one Best in Show winner from each of the five participating schools. Another $50 will be used to print posters featuring dozens of birdhouses creatively painted and decorated by fifth grade students.

“Many more students will see their work, and we, the public, will be able to enjoy a lot more form these creative children,” MacNellis explained.

Six barbecue vendors vied for bragging rights during the BBQ & Family FunFest at Estero Community Park March 23. Southern Boys BBQ and Bonez Brothers BBQ took home top honors for their ribs.

Six barbecue vendors vied for bragging rights during the BBQ & Family FunFest at Estero Community Park March 23. Southern Boys BBQ and Bonez Brothers BBQ took home top honors for their ribs.

While many parents and grandparents came to admire their students’ artwork, others came to the festival to relax in the sun and pig out. Each vendor offered its unique twist on barbecue.

“Tiki Tim” Reynolds of Pig In or Pig Out, the second place winner, competes at events throughout the region and has a table of trophies to prove it. His secret lies in constant basting with a homemade, original recipe sauce. Pig In or Pig Out also makes eating barbecue a little more convenient as the “Home of the Rib-Sicle,” a single rib on a bamboo stick.

“With the stick, you can walk and talk with it,” Tiki Tim explains.

Meanwhile, Southern Boys is known as “Home of the Original BBQ Sundae.” Customers can choose either pulled pork, chicken or beef brisket as the base for this creative concoction. The meat is layered with barbecue sauce, cole slaw and baked beans in a clear cup, making a savory version of a sundae.

Dawn Bryant, known as “Madam Mac,” added five varieties of macaroni-and-cheese to her barbecue offerings, including Magical Jalapeño and Bacon Mac, and Mac Piggy, mixing classic mac and cheese with pulled pork.

“My mother was from Georgia, so that’s where I learned to cook,” Madam Mac noted as customers raved over her cheesy concoctions.

Bonez Brothers brought its assortment of fresh-from-the-swamp fare, including Florida Gator Tail, Gator Fritters and the Swamp Burger, a mix of Angus beef and alligator meat. Growing up on Sanibel, owner Todd Noon said he likes to promote “real Florida” food. Bonez Brothers will be filmed for the television show “Man v. Food” at the Redneck Yacht Club next week, Noon added.

BBQ & FAMILY FUN FEST

Best BBQ Winners

First Place: Bonez Brothers BBQ and Southern Boys BBQ (tie)

Second Place: Pig In or Pig Out

Third Place: City Smoke BBQ

ESTERO FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS

Best in Show Winners

■ Bryce Bruni, kindergarten, Three Oaks Elementary

■ Carley Estler, kindergarten, San Carlos Park Elementary

■ Jazmine Martinez, first grade, Pinewoods Elementary

■ Devon Sanders, Three Oaks Middle School

■ Jordan Crist, senior, Estero High School

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