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Smokin’ in the Mangroves heats up the south end Saturday

March 1, 2016
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The charcoal has been lit, propane tanks turned on and flames starting to rise, as the fifth annual Smokin' in the Mangroves barbecue festival heats up Santini Marina Plaza Santini Marina Plaza Saturday, March 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is the largest Santini gathering of the year, as barbecue competitors, masters and champions congregate from all over Florida and Georgia to join in on this competition, and to serve visitors fresh, home-cooked barbecue creations.

Local backyard teams will be competing head-to-head with the pros. It's sure to be another great event, as it's been in years past. "There are four professional teams, two of whom are former first-place winners: Big Papa's BBQ (Grand National Champion USA) and our own Bonez BBQ, who has won the Santini competition twice in the past four years," said Bonnie Roberts of Bonnie Roberts Events, lead coordinator of the event. "There are four Backyard Competitors this year, including Wild Fire BBQ and Swamp Gators, both who have scored amazing results in past competitions at Santini Marina Plaza!"

While chowing down on mouth-watering selections, enjoy the live music of the Bugtussle Ramblers, entertaining the crowd with their world-class bluegrass music.?Peruse the 40 vendors and artisans set up throughout the plaza, as well, along with the Santini Fresh Market, "with locally grown fruits and veggies, honey, a wide variety of on-site exotic wood hand carving, beautiful jewelry creations, art, pet treats and so much more!" Bonnie said.

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Many food vendors will also offer the perfect complement to the BBQ goodness, and plaza restaurants plan to serve up a wealth of refreshing cocktails.

"All of the competitors will be vending their fantastic barbecue to all attendees," Bonnie said. "A trophy awards ceremony will take place at 2 that afternoon, from a panel of 24 local island celebrity judges. The most coveted People's Choice Award is decided by the public, so be certain to sample the entries, come by the tent next to the Bluegrass stage to vote, and the People's Choice Award will be presented as the finale to a fun day at Santini Marina Plaza."

There is no cost to attend, nor to park at the plaza. "Find a Home, Give a Home island pet rescue will be front and center, accepting dog and cat food donations, as well as offering hourly raffles for fantastic prizes and adoptable pets available to love," Bonnie eagerly stated. "We expect the fun and food to be nothing short of amazing. Follow the smoke to 7225 Estero Blvd. Saturday, and come on down!"

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If interested in volunteering during the event, get in touch with Bonnie, 239-443-8810.



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