Southern rock music + hot fresh BBQ = Florida’s most fun weekend!

SF College Boots ‘n BBQ Cook-Off and Scholarship Fundraiser

Friday’s Southern rock extravaganza opens at 5 p.m. with Down the Hatch. Then comes Eric Durrance’s Tobacco Rd. Band out of Tallahassee. The band is celebrating its debut CD “Coming Back Around” which has been a big hit. (Durrance co-wrote the Top 10 hit “Eight-Second Ride” recorded by country singer Jake Owen.)Two days of Southern rock music and fantastic food are headed here as the Santa Fe College Boots ‘n BBQ Festival invades the Bradford County Fairgrounds Friday, May 18-Saturday, May 19.

Mustang Sally is next on the bill. An all-girl band, their newest single is “Rippin Up Dixie.” They are recently back from their fourth straight country music festival performance in Europe.

The Molly Hatchet Band out of Jacksonville tops off the night. This ultimate classic Southern rock band has been touring and recording since the 1970s and has longstanding American and European fan bases.

“These bands are really good and $15 is a great value for the music,” said Kathryn Lehman, festival coordinator. See rave reviews by fans of these bands and links to their websites at www.bootsnbbq.com.

That’s not all for Friday. There’s also great food, BBQ, fried gator, funnel cakes, kettle corn and lots more delicious festival foods — guaranteed.

The gates open 9 a.m. Saturday with something for everyone: family entertainment, kiddie arcade, arts and crafts, professional face painting — a whole day’s fun taken care of. There’s lots more music, too, on Saturday and Bradford County’s own Steel Rockin’ Band headlines the roster.

Not everyone in the band may be from Starke originally, but they all call it home now. “We meshed as friends first, and then as musicians,” said Jeff Oody, the band’s drummer. “All of us had played in other bands for years, got to talking, and decided to play together. ”

So a few years ago they began practicing in a barn in Lawtey and started being asked to play at events. They play mostly at community related affairs like the Strawberry Festival, SF Boots ‘n BBQ, Bike Fest, Cruise In, and the Chamber of Commerce.

They play Southern rock, like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Creedence Clearwater Revival, and some originals (three band members write songs). Along with Jeff Oody, who plays drums, are his brother Marc Oody, guitar; Lamar Harrison, guitar; Bruce Buschman, guitar/bass; and Ricky Thompson, steel guitar.

In their day jobs, Jeff Oody is a bank president, Marc Oody is operations manager for the City of Starke, Lamar Harrison is employed by Century Link, Bruce Buschman is retired, and Ricky Thompson is outgoing operations manager for the City of Starke.

Besides the music there’s terrific food: great Southern cookin’, fresh Florida seafood, wonderful desserts baked by the renowned pastry chefs of Bradford County (homemade cake by the slice), boiled peanuts, and homemade lemonade. Special bbq sauce and hot sauce will be available to take home.

New this year is the children’s book festival designed to excite and intrigue youngsters into new reading adventures. A man who was born with only one leg and yet became a sports hall of famer will be on hand to talk to kids. His name is Carl Joseph and his story, “Some Called Me Superstar,” has been published by Gainesville’s Wild Onion Press.┬áThere will also be other authors, plus book and game giveaways. Partial funding provided by a State of Florida Cultural Affairs grant.

There are prizes to be won by professional teams and backyard chefs. The People’s Choice BBQ awards are announced beginning 1 p.m. Saturday and the barbecue competition prizes are announced beginning 5 p.m. Boots ‘n BBQ ends at 6 p.m. — until next year!

Festival hours are 5-10 p.m. Friday, May 18 and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 19 rain or shine. Friday admission is $15. Saturday admission is $5 and children under 12 accompanied by an adult are free. Weekend camping is available. Admission tickets and camping tickets can be bought in advance at bootsnbbq.com. The Bradford County Fairgrounds address is 2300 North Temple Avenue, Starke.

All proceeds go to fund student scholarships at Santa Fe College. Visit www.bootsnbbq.com for up-to-date information, images, and travel directions. Or contact Kathryn Lehman, festival coordinator: cell 352-214-8178, office 352-395-5355 or 904-964-5382 ext. 5355, or email kathryn.lehman@sfcollege.edu.