Posted 8/08/12 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
Ribfest is back and bigger than ever. More people, vendors, events, and food will line Watford City’s Main Street as the smell of ribs engulfs the crowd.
This year literally, people from all over the country will partake in the Watford City Area Chamber of Commerce’s ninth annual Best of the West Ribfest. With full bellies and barbecue sauce-smeared faces, people will eat as over 15 teams compete for the title of Best of the West Ribfest Champion.
The reigning Ribfest Champion of 2011, team Montana-Dakota Utilities, is back to defend its title. Led by Scott from MDU, their ‘little grill that could’ is out to out-cook and out-barbecue the competition, though it may endure some ribbing.
“We are excited to have our own grill this year. Last year, we used a little grill and heard people say, ‘I wonder how that group with the little grill did?’” states Scott. “I was pleased to tell them that we were the ones with the little grill, and we got first place.”
This year, Scott is bringing his southwest influences to the table so team MDU can throw their ‘Mexican-Poked Baby Back Ribs’ into the ring.
“With a little sweet, sour and spice, and our ‘Little Grill that Could,’ we hope to win two in a row,” states Scott.
The ‘Little Grill that Could’ cooked two cases of ribs last year and blew through them in no time. This year, they are hoping to last a little longer by making an extra case of ribs for this year’s celebration.
Not to be out-done, however, is last year’s ‘Three Little Pigs,’ team from TJ’s with this year’s concoction made by Julie Grotte and her daughter, Rachel.
“Last year we worked on the sauce a few weeks before the competition, by just throwing a mixture of ingredients together,” Julie states. “We tried to be original but still stand out.”
The ‘Three Little Pigs’ stood out enough to take second place, but this year team TJ’s has its eye on the first place trophy.
“We’re still going to stick with our same flavorful and robust taste, but we’ve also changed some things,” Julie states. “We want to win first place this year.”
Team TJ’s, having blown through 200 pounds of ribs by 8 p.m. last year, will prepare an extra 50 pounds, making a total of 250 pounds of ribs for this year’s Ribfest crowd.
Also scratching their competitive itch will be team Smoky Bakken Boys and team Relay For Life, among others.
One dark horse competitor not only hopes to win the title, but plans to donate their proceeds to benefit a local family and a little girl.
Hamm & Phillips ‘Clueless Cookers’ are first-time competitors this year and since the sponsor company, Hamm & Phillips, didn’t want the proceeds, every dime the ‘Clueless Cookers’ make will be donated to the Wisness family for their two-year-old daughter, Clara, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia.
“We hope everyone stops into our booth,” states Mike Bell, one of the six-or-so chefs on the team. “We want to sell out, because that’s all the more that will go to the Wisness family.”
Additionally, team Hamm & Phillips wants to challenge other teams to consider donating some or all of their proceeds to the Clara Wisness Benefit.
Though amateurs in the grilling arena, these ‘Clueless Cookers’ have gone to great lengths to come out ahead.
“I brought back some smokewood from Texas and my daughter’s boss has won about 30 competitions with his world famous spice rub, so we think we have as good a chance as anyone to win,” Mike states.
In addition to the 250 pounds of ribs they will have ready, team Hamm & Phillips will offer baked potatoes, broccoli slaw, and homemade cookies.
“Everyone will get their $3 worth,” states Mike.
The ‘Clueless Cookers’ will also be serving a hotdog or hamburger lunch earlier in the day.
Team Relay For Life is also ‘in it to win it,’ for cancer prevention. Along with offering great tasting ribs, they will be raising money throughout the day and night, with all their proceeds going toward the Relay For Life Foundation.
“Ribfest started nine years ago as a way to promote Main Street businesses,” states Jessie Scofield, Ribfest Committee chairperson. But in these busy times, “It’s a way we can keep our finger on what’s important - community.”
“Everyone is stressed to the max, but we have to celebrate our community,” Scofield states. “What better way to end the summer than to have a good time with your community.”
This year’s Best of the West Ribfest will be Friday, Aug. 10, beginning at 10 a.m. on Watford City’s Main Street.
There will be music, shopping and food available during the day. In addition, at noon, children are invited to The Showdown to get in touch with their inner cowboy, and later on, have fun along Main Street by participating in the Fun on the Run games, along with the Chicken Dance and the Diaper Derby. And interested adults are invited to participate in the 2nd Annual Car and Truck Show.
Then at 5 p.m., rib booths are ‘open for consumption,’ with judging taking place at 4 p.m. Also at 4 p.m. the band Lonesome Willy will begin playing. The Beer Garden opens at 8 p.m. and the band Branded will begin playing. The Street Dance starts at 8:30 p.m.