The Charleston Ribfest and Regatta is this summer’s latest cancellation because of the coronavirus.
With continuing concerns about COVID-19 and uncertainty about when Gov. Jim Justice’s order closing fairs and festivals would be lifted, founder and organizer Bill Picozzi said Ribfest was canceled for this year.
Scheduled for Sept. 10-13, the savory sampling would have returned to Charleston’s waterfront after a few years away.
“We were looking forward to bringing it back,” Picozzi said over the phone. “The city was excited about having us.”
The popular food fest in the past featured nightly live entertainment, carnival rides and half a dozen or so barbecue vendors, some of them nationally recognized award-winners.
Picozzi said he had everything but the entertainment lined up.
“I had all the vendors, including three world class rib vendors from the Food Network,” he said. “If we were doing Ribfest this weekend, we’d be ready to go.”
The music and entertainment is for the family, he said, but most people really just come for the ribs.
The festival has moved from location to location through the years.
Started in the late 1990s, Ribfest debuted on Magic Island and then moved to Watt Powell Park and Laidley Field. In 2011, the event moved to Oakes Field in South Charleston, Shawnee Park in Dunbar and then back to Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston and again to South Charleston.
Last year, Ribfest was on hold. Picozzi said he had to get through some health issues.
Picozzi said he was disappointed to have to cancel Ribfest, but looked forward to bringing it back to Charleston in September 2021.
“I’m already making plans for it,” he said.