Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
3:27 pm EST
Monday, January 24, 2022

Boogie on down

Sumter County’s Beef and Boogie Festival, November 9-10, 2013Sumter County’s Beef and Boogie Festival celebrates the area’s rich history in the cattle industry.

story: James Combs  photos: Provided

Where’s the beef?

Look no farther than your own backyard. While most people equate Florida with Mickey Mouse and white sandy beaches, the Sunshine State actually ranks 10th in the country for beef production.

Over the years, Sumter County has certainly derived meaty profits by being a major player in the cattle industry. Webster is home to the Sumter County Farmers Market, one of the largest cattle markets in the southeastern United States.

“Beef that leaves Sumter County can be found in hamburgers all over the world,” says Andy Cripps, executive director of the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce. “Also, I’ve heard that more than 70 percent of leather seats in automobiles come from cowhides that originated in Sumter County.”

To celebrate the county’s rich history and tradition in the beef industry, the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce is hosting the third annual Beef and Boogie Festival on Nov. 9–10 at the Sumter County Fairgrounds. The event will feature live entertainment, cook-off contests, and much more.

“We are one of Florida’s largest beef-producing counties,” Cripps says. “The cattle industry has been such an important part of our local culture, and this event helps us celebrate that fact.”

‘Meat’ me at the festival

How could you celebrate the county’s contribution to the beef industry without having a cook-off? Dubbed a “backyard competition” by Cripps, this year’s cook-off allows individuals and teams to compete in one of three categories: Best Sumter Burger, Best Beef Brisket, and Best Ribs. Competitors pay a $35 entry fee and also will be allowed to sell their food at a price they determine. More than $1,000 in cash prizes will be awarded in each of the three categories.

Kelleigh Bannen

Kelleigh Bannen

While pleasing your taste buds with delicious meats cooked on-site, be sure to enjoy live music from a stellar lineup of country music performers. Saturday’s headline performance is Kelleigh Bannen, an up-and-coming artist who made her Nashville debut in 2012 with the hit single “Sorry on the Rocks.” She is currently producing a second album. Sunday features popular Central Florida country music artist Jim Van Fleet, who is also a chief meteorologist with 10 News in Tampa. His musical career has allowed him to tour with country music stars Taylor Swift, Hank Williams Jr., Dwight Yoakam, and LeAnn Rimes.

Jim Van Fleet

Jim Van Fleet

“We’re very pleased to bring in this caliber of talent,” Cripps says. “The first year of this festival we brought in both rock bands and country music bands and realized country music is much more popular than rock at this festival. We’ve definitely taken it up a notch in terms of quality artists.” Another highlight of the event is an educational component called Beef Country, organized by the Sumter County Cattlewomen’s Association and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Sumter County Extension Office. Beef Country will feature educational displays, lasso and roping demonstrations, and local 4-H students explaining how to properly raise cattle.

“It is important that people learn about the local culture,” Cripps says. “The beef industry here is fairly invisible. You see cows on the side of the road, but that does not show the scope of how important cattle are to the economy.”

boogie-002Plenty of activities will be available for children, including a bounce house, corn pit, tractor race, face painting, and a merry-go-round.

One thing is certain: Those who attend this event will not leave asking the popular question from the infamous Wendy’s commercial: “Where’s the beef?”

The Beef and Boogie Festival costs $10 for adults. Children ages 12 and under are admitted free. For more information, call the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce at 352.793.3099 or visit

Entertainment lineup

Rainer Berry

Rainer Berry

1:30p.m. Singer/songwriter Rainer Berry
3p.m. The Dan Story Band
4:30p.m. Singer/songwriter Rainer Berry
5:30p.m. Clemons Road
7p.m. Kelleigh Bannen

2:30p.m. County Line Road
4:30p.m. Jim Van Fleet


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *