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Oink, oink! Symphony’s barbecue fundraiser has it made in the shade

Courtesy Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra

Bellies along the Coast can answer the call of the wild Saturday at the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra’s 29th annual Barbecue Under the Oaks, at Gulfport’s Centennial Plaza.

The fundraiser takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This year’s theme is “Grillin’ Gone Wild.” The name is the mantra of the two-year reigning champion Hard Rock Casino Biloxi, who will be defending their title this year.

About 35 “ribmeister” cooking teams will compete to prepare the tastiest and most succulent barbecued ribs. It’s the largest field of competition in the history. Some of the ribmeisters camp out overnight to slow-smoke their meats — such as ribs, pulled pork and brisket — all of which are free to sample with admission.

There also will be an array of Southern side dishes. Outstanding sides from past years include Hard Rock’s jalapeno bread pudding, and this year the Gulfport Police Department’s team of chefs will be serving stuffed turkey necks. There will be free iced tea and a cash bar, where the Symphony will be serving its signature Bourbon Slushies and Bloody Marys.

The competition brings in professionals, amateurs and local restaurants, including Bacchus and Hotel Whiskey. The winner receives a plaque, and, more important, bragging rights. Their task is to put forth their best effort, knowing they must serve their entry to more than 2,000 attendees.

The event was awarded as one of the best eight fundraisers in the nation by the League of the American Symphony Volunteer Councils.

Dhiana Skrmetti, Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra executive director, said Barbecue Under the Oaks is a fun way to get a good meal.

“It’s a lot of fun because it’s held under the beautiful Live oaks, and normally, knock on wood, we have beautiful weather. People have a great time sitting and giggling and they walk away feeling full and happy,” she said.

There will be a children’s area with a bounce house and train rides. Raffle tickets for a Green Egg smoker will be five for $20. A $10,000 drawdown will be held with tickets available for $100.

Admission is $40 in advance or $45 at the gate, and $10 for ages 12 and younger. For advance tickets, call 228-896-4276.

Gulfport Centennial Plaza is at200 East Beach Blvd., Gulfport.

If you go

What: Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra’s 29th annual Barbecue Under the Oaks

When: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Centennial Plaza, 200 East Beach Blvd., Gulfport

Admission: $40 in advance or $45 at the gate, and $10 for ages 12 and younger. For advance tickets, call 228-896-4276

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