Firing Up the Grills for Families & Concert Fans at the 2024 LABADIE RIB FEST

Bay City’s Legendary Celebration Returns July 25-28 with an Affordable Banquet of Top-Flight Barbecue, National Entertainment, and Family Oriented Festivities

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    icon Jul 11, 2024
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"Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it's a start." - Anthony Bourdain

Celebrated author William Faulkner once said, “No barbecue is worth anything unless it takes all day.”

In the case of the third annual 2024 LABADIE RIB FEST, returning once again to Bay City’s  Veterans Memorial Park the weekend of July 25-28th, patrons can experience four full days and nights of mouthwatering ribs from 9 award-winning vendors spanning the country from Delaware, Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania, while also enjoying four nights of headlining concerts starring 6 national bands along with many of Michigan’s best regional bands to open the shows.

Known as the ‘Pig Gig’ when it was first conceived by founder Wendy Dore over 20 years ago, a pivotal mission of the festival making it resonate above many of the summer’s regional festivals is that it was designed to better Bay City by funneling proceeds back into the community through the help of a number of non-profit partners such as the Bay County Literacy Council, The Boys & Girls Club of Bay City, CAN Council, and Bay County Habitat for Humanity, to name but a few of the dozen-plus non-profit partners who are able to raise money and increase their memberships throughout the expanse of this four-day event.

After a ten-year run that ended around 2012, Bay City advocate, businessman, and concert promoter Jay Samborn decided to spearhead an effort to revive the festival, which resulted in a remarkably strong public response that has grown since the festival was re-introduced, proving how successful traditions can ignite, inspire, and spark engagement within a community.

“After molding the Rib Fest into the marquee event it became, I knew after a ten-year hiatus certain things would need to updated, but the core aspects we had no intention of changing, because why bother changing a successful recipe,” explains Samborn. “We added a few new activities like our Cornhole Tournament, 5K Run, and our Motorcycle Rally, but familiarity was the goal and to my mind, if something isn’t broke there’s no need to fix it.”

“This year we intend to focus on improving these things we already have in place,” he continues. “Last year we introduced many new activities and wanted to see how they went, and because they did very well our goal this year I to boost those activities to make them even better.  The nice thing about a 4-day event is that people can also attend other things if they want to and still attend the Rib Fest.

“With the Cornhole Tournament slated for July 26 & 27, players can enter teams in social or competitive contests, and we got a bigger jump on getting information out to people earlier this year, so this is another fun activity people enjoy to watch or participate in while eating their ribs,” notes Jay.

“The 5/K Run/Walk also went very well for its first year and this year we’ve already got runners signed up. We had some wet weather last year that made the course challenging, so this year the course may change. With the Motorcycle Rally participants can start at Vehicle Harley and ride up to the rib fest from Flint.  Registration starts at 11 AM on Sunday, July 28th, and take off is at 1 PM. They can get front or lawn seats to the Jackyl concert along with lunch and VIP parking at the festival. This is another one of those newer events we’ve been building on the past few years that keeps getting better.”

People can register online at for each of these three ancillary events.

Additionally, the Budweiser Entertainment Tent will open each day at the same time as the festival gates and feature the area’s best local bands, while Outdoor Adventure will bring family entertainment such as musical acts, dance groups, magic shows, games, and contests into the mix. Plus they will feature a Little Piggy Market Place with area vendors, a Kids Zone, and Pig Racing.

Labadie Rib Fest Hours will run as follows: Thurs, July 25 - 4-11PM; Friday, July 26 - noon-11PM ; Saturday, July 27 - 11AM-11PM; Sunday, July 28 - 11AM - 8PM.

Additionally, there will be a Celebrity Rib Cook-off on Friday, July 25th from noon to 1 PM with free admission. Featuring local news, radio, TV, and media personalities, they will be concocting their own special BBQ sauce recipes with the public voting for the favorite recipe in order to raise money for favorite charities. Daily admission is only $10.00 and you can obtain a weekend pass for only $30.00.

As for their Live Concert Showcase, you couldn’t ask for a better value, with general seating starting at only $10.00.

Here’s the line-up:


Since 2002 Gabriel Sanchez has been portraying Prince in his critically acclaimed show The Prince Experience. What started off as Gabriel portraying Prince in a local theatre production of Purple Rain, has expanded into a full blown loving tribute to Prince.  The Prince Experience puts on a show of unbelievable entertainment.  Anyone who has seen it will be talking about it long after the last encore is played. Show is Rain or Shine



Country-blues-rocker Frankie Ballard released his latest album El Rio to critical acclaim and was selected by Rolling Stone magazine  as one of the 25 Best Country and Americana albums of 2016 and The Tennessean as one of the best 16 Nashville albums of 2016.  With combined album sales of over 450,000 to date and over 150 million total streams across all streaming platforms, Ballard continues to be a country music stand-out, mixing an American heartland rock sound with traditional country and blues.

Frankie Ballard’s previous album, Sunshine & Whiskey, produced three consecutive number one singles – the platinum-certified “Sunshine & Whiskey,” the gold-certified “Helluva Life,” and one of the Top 3 Billboard Country Airplay songs of 2015, “Young & Crazy.”

With the release of Billy Dean’s debut album Young Man in 1990, and buoyed by the hit singles Only Here for a Little While and Somewhere in My Broken Heart, this became Billy’s first of many Gold records.

His second and third albums, Billy Dean and Fire in the Dark  were also certified as Gold records.

Over the course of his 25+ year career, Billy has released 11 albums and has been recognized with several awards and nominations. 


Tickets $10.00 general seating, $25 advanced preferred seating with chair, $45 VIP seating.


In its brief recording history, Ambrosia garnered 5 Grammy Nominations, 5 Hit Singles, Heavy FM airplay and the admiration and respect of the musical community.  All of this was in addition to sold out concerts and love from fans all over the world.  ​ With three of the original members intact, Ambrosia delivers a delicious blend of prog, art, and yacht rock…delivered with a passion that speaks to the hearts of their fans today.

Firefall started in Boulder, Colorado back in 1974 with lead guitarist and vocalist Jock Bartley, along with two other refugees from the legendary Graham Parsons band. Firefall’s layered harmonies backed by driving rhythms that transcend many genres from rock to country brought them Platinum and Gold Album and Single success with hits like “You Are The Woman,” “Strange Way,” and “Just Remember I Love You.” Other major Firefall radio hits include “Cinderella,” “Goodbye I Love You,” “Livin’ Ain’t Livin” and “Mexico.”


Tickets: $10.00 general seating, $25 advanced preferred seating with chair, $45 VIP seating.


Jackyl released their debut album on Geffen Records. It was the middle of Grunge, but Jackyl’s loud, proud and unapologetic rock songs, produced by Brendan O’Brien (Stone Temple Pilots, AC/DC), earned the LP double-platinum status, which helped the band land a scene-stealing spot on Woodstock ’94. 

With well over a decade of touring Raggedy Ann has shared the stage with many great bands including JACKYL, WARRANT, SLAUGHTER and many more. Since 1998 Raggedy Ann has primarily played  Michigan venues enjoying a large and loyal fan base/


Tickets $10.00 general seating, $25 advanced preferred seating with chair, $45 VIP seating. 

A Celebration of Charity & Community

Given that one of the primary goals for the Labadie Rib Fest since its inception has been to provide a venue for charitable community organizations to raise revenue, how much money does Jay estimate has been generated for their endeavors?

“It’s hard to peg an exact number on, but I would say it’s in the tens of thousands range,” he explains. “The charities raise the money inside the event over its four day duration, so we don’t really know because they do their own accounting and not everybody reports back to us. We create an atmosphere for charities to generate revenue within the event, and some are very vocal about the money they’ve raised. Bay City Academy, for example, has raised $10,000 to take kids on 30 field trips with money, and we strive to make donations back to the charities and non-profits who volunteer to work and help us organize the event, based upon their participation. Crimestoppers handles the parking lots and takes donations, and we have 19 charities and non-profit involved this year.  This festival is really a giveback from myself and my family to the community.”

In the wake of the State Theatre and Wenonah Park controversy, with headlining acts Rick Springfield and Joan Jett having their checks bounce, has that posed any problems or challenges for Jay in pulling this year’s line-up together? 

It hasn’t for this year’s Rib Fest,” states Jay, “but it has been a challenge dealing with booking agencies,” he explains. “I’ve been looking at pulling a concert together after the Rib Fest later in the summer, but have noticed a lot of agents not calling back, or the ones that do only offering second tier acts, because word spreads around in that world.  But for this particular festival everything has gone pretty smooth. We have 300 volunteers helping out with operations and charity work and everything is coming into place very well.”

“The only difference between this year and last I’ve noticed is, for whatever reason and  I don’t want to speculate, people are not buying advance tickets as much as in previous years, and I’m not sure what the reason is.  I’m confident people will come to the concerts because its only ten bucks for a lawn seat and $12.00 at the door, and while everything is selling people seem to be waiting until the last minute.  I recommend people to get their tickets now, because paying $10.00 to see a national act that you grew up with - frankly, I don’t know any concert or festival venue around today where you can do that.”

“It goes back to the charity aspect,” concludes Samborn. “We produce the Rib Fest to  make it affordable for our community, so people don’t have to spend $150 on a ticket. It’s reasonable and affordable and there is no reason people can’t go to these shows, which is the whole idea.”

“We also encourage people to park on Midland Street and check out all the new things going on. As they walk into the park they’ll be surprised at all the new businesses that have opened and they can stop at their favorite watering hold on the way to the park.”

Tickets are available at and designated outlets to be announced, plus you can find our more information and last minute details on the Labadie Rib Fest Facebook page.

You can also check out video clips from the performing artists by clicking these links:







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