When you think about it, fire is something that brings people together. In ancient times, at night, it was cold and dark. People huddled around a fire for warmth and light. The glow of the flames drew people in… bringing them closer together. And as they drew near they began to talk, tell stories, and bond as a community.

From the dawn of time, it has been this way. And in modern times, the grill has taken the place of community fires and the like in bringing people together.

There is also the aroma of fire-grilled meat and the basic comforting element of the food that is associated with a grill.

Ribs. Chicken. Steak. Barbecue.

It can bring people together too. Bring out a crowd even… especially when there are over 100 grill masters all in the same place.


 More than 100 barbecue teams are entered in this weekend’s Apopka BBQ Blast set for Friday and Saturday at the Northwest Recreation Complex, 3710 Jason Dwelley Parkway.

The free event features some of the best barbecue cooks in Florida on Friday and Saturday. Come sample the barbecue and vote for your favorite team from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. A large truck show also is Saturday.

“We are in our 6th year of hosting this barbecue competition,” said Apopka Fire Chief Chuck Carnesale. “This Apopka BBQ Blast continues to be the Florida Barbecue Association’s largest event for three years running. Last year we had 130 teams registered and this year we have 101. This event brings hundreds of people to Apopka for competition barbecue, which is growing in popularity nationwide and pumps thousands of dollars into the local economy. Some of the biggest names in barbecue have come to Apopka to compete including Myron Mixon from the popular television show, BBQ Pitmasters.”

 Friday night includes fireworks, a concert from the band Cumberland Gap, a steak cooking competition, a family movie (The Emoji Movie), face painting, food trucks and more.

And the fireworks are from a world-renowned name in pyrotechnics – Zambelli Fireworks.

Founded in 1893 – Zambelli Fireworks coordinates more than 1,600 shows a year. Antonio Zambelli left Italy 125 years ago to establish the Zambelli Fireworks Manufacturing Company in New Castle, Pennsylvania, which was to become a center for America’s fireworks industry.

Building on the grand tradition Antonio began, subsequent generations of Zambellis are known worldwide for setting the industry standard in design and technology – then exceeding it. Today, that Zambelli family heritage continues under the guidance of Antonio’s grandson, George Zambelli Jr., M.D., as Chairman.

Times are 6 to 9 p.m. Friday – the fireworks start at 9 p.m. and Cumberland Gap begins at 6 p.m. The Emoji Movie begins at 6:30 p.m. The fun is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Editor’s Note: The City of Apopka Public Information Office contributed to this report.


  1. My favorite bar-b-q is the Sonny’s Carolina Sweet Bar-B-Q Pork Sandwich with coleslaw on toasted garlic bread. Yum Yum. I like the minced pork, which you hardly ever find around here, too. I like the sweet bar-b-q sauces, the mustard ones, and the vinegar based ones, but NO hot sauces for me.

  2. I always liked Fat Boys Bar-B-Q too, and Rogers Bar-B-Q Shack near the Ocala Forest coming out of Silver Springs, that used to have really good Bar-B-Q dinners, but they went under and closed. Oh, and the old Meiner’s near Fairvilla on 441 was great! Wasn’t fancy, had the old cowboy painted murals on the walls, but was oh so good! Had the cowboy’s horse sitting on the bar stool at the bar…lol

  3. Joey Bo Bo Buttafucco, my little dog, is having another rough day, and night tonight. His breathing is harsh, and he is coughing, and gagging. It is his heart…congestive heart failure, a loud heart murmur, and very rounded enlarged heart, that is pumping too hard. I am going to see if the vet can give him something else to help him, other than this one medicine, as this is pitiful, to see my little boy like this. I try to keep his head elevated, when in our bed with pillows, as it seems to help him some. It seems there is nothing I can do otherwise, and it hurts me so badly, as he is my world.


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