By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council unanimously voted during their September 12th, meeting to approve of permitting the Port City Rib Festival to take place on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk November 10th through 12th.
Allen McDavid with AKA Entertainment and Media, LLC out of Greensboro, NC, said the Port City RibFest has been held in downtown Wilmington for four years and due to construction at the event location, they need to relocate. He said the oceanfront Boardwalk in Carolina Beach is ideal because of it's location to the oceanfront, hotels and other amenities.
McDavid said, "The last two years it's been at what will eventually be North Waterfront Park and that's not available anymore because they are actually going to turn it into a park. When I decided to do a RibFest down here - I do them other places - one of the things I determined was a necessity was that it had to be on the water somewhere or there was no uniqueness in having it here. The opportunity to have it on the water in Wilmington has gone away. We originally had it at the Battleship [North Carolina] but a reggae festival basically tore up the park there one year and did away with anybody having events there of that size."
McDavid said he wanted to ask the Council if they were open to the idea of relocating the event to the Boardwalk area on Cape Fear Blvd where the amusement rides are located during the summer months. The event would take place in November after the rides have left for the off-season.
He said, "Have it in November, off-season, but still when there are still pretty temperate temperatures which I think is better for a BBQ festival than August anyway."
He said the event typically attracts up to 9,000 people over three days. This event would take place November 10th through the 12th.
He said, "I do events all over the state, that's what I do. I've done 40 large festivals in eight different cities in North Carolina. I've enjoyed doing this one here. We've had a good time. We bring in national BBQ teams from around the country. Because they travel anywhere from 800 to 1,200 miles away, it's kind of a necessity to have multiple days to make it worth their while to be here."
During the Council's Tuesday September 12th, meeting McDavid said the event will benefit Federal Point Help Center and Eastern North Carolina Food Bank.
Mayor Dan Wilcox said, "That's real important to us... Every event that has come here has really been a non-profit event that has contributed to their non-profit and also the arrangements we've made with them is that in lieu of using some of our public property that they contribute to one of our local non-profits that would directly impact and benefit the lives of our locals."
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said he likes the event, and also wanted to make sure that area business owners are notified of the details in advance.
The Council first discussed the proposal in August. Mayor Wilcox said, "I think this would probably be a great event during the time of year you want to bring it. Could very well be a great event maybe annually for our area. One of the things we strive for when we look at these type of events, especially in that public setting so to speak even though some of it is on private property, is a win win situation. So it's good for you. It's good for the businesses down there. It's good for the Town."
Wilcox said during previous events the Town learned quickly not to permit events to block walkways in Boardwalk area because it hinders people from walking to local businesses.
McDavid said he could design the fencing for the event to keep access open so pedestrians can still access businesses on the Boardwalk.
McDavid said people will be able to enter and exit the event throughout the same day and visit area businesses.
He said, "I've been doing a RibFest in downtown Winston Salem for fourteen years. When we first started it the local restaurants where like 'oh my God this is going to hurt our business' and its turned out to be the opposite because we let people come and go and because we also have about two or three hundred people that come in to Town from out of Town that
work at the event. They don't want to eat BBQ" because they want to visit restaurants and try something different.
Our State Magazine named the Twin City RibFest in Winston Salem as one of the NC’s Top 10 Summer Festivals in 2015 and was listed as one of The Top 50 BBQ Festivals in America by USA Today in 2016.
Council agreed they like the idea of the event taking place in the off-season to help generate additional traffic to local businesses.
McDavid said he hopes some local BBQ teams will sign up for the event.
For more informtation, visit www.portcityribfest.net