Posted 8/15/12 (Wed)
By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer
Walking down Main Street last Friday was a picture of a vibrant community enjoying good fun, food and family. There was so much to take in, the sweet and smokey smells of barbecue ribs, the rush of children running to find more candy money from their parents, and the brash laughter of longtime friends.
Best of the West Ribfest, sponsored by the Watford City Area Chamber of Commerce, celebrated its ninth year of music, vendors, kids games, and of course, serving up lots and lots of ribs.
“You just get to see a lot of people,” says John Lawlar. “And most of them I haven’t seen in awhile.”
Roving from one end of Main Street to the other, Ribfest-goers saw over 30 booths with everything from vendors with jewelry and bath products to mechanical bull riding, face painting and classic cars to ice cream. They even had the chance to run after discounts from local businesses at the Ping Pong Ball Drop.
“It was a good atmosphere for families and a great social event to bring friends together and create new ones,” says A.J. Jordan, who experienced his first Ribfest. “And tasting all the different rib recipes was pretty awesome, too.”
The rib eating started at 5 p.m. and though the rush was not what it has been in years past, all 16 rib teams sold out of the ribs. But with each team serving at least 150 pounds, some even had 300 pounds on hand, there was over 3,000 pounds to go around.
While everyone was able to enjoy the good barbecue and different flavor styles, only one could truly claim to have the best ribs.
Armed with 150 pounds of ribs, first place in the ribs contest went to Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU). The MDU team led by Scott Iverson successfully defended their Best Ribs title for the second year in a row.
“We started cooking at 9 a.m.,” says Iverson. “I have a secret recipe for our ‘Mexican-Poked Baby Back Ribs.’ They are really good.”
The judges agreed and the team walked away with the $1,000 prize. Second place went to the Cal-Kern, LLC team, winning $500, while the Relay For Life team claimed the $250 prize for booth showmanship. Smokey Bakken Boys, led by Derek Pfeifer, Brian Pfeifer and Chad Green were voted People’s Choice.
“Everything was almost sold out when I got here at 7 p.m.,” says Jonathan Rolfson. “But the Relay For Life booth was good and they had awesome homemade baked beans!”
The second annual Car and Truck Show doled out prizes as well. Jim and DeNay Schmidt won for Best Pre-1948 and were also People’s Choice. Ray Billing walked away with Best Mopar. Best Ford and Best Paint both went to Harold Olheiser. Tom Dodds took Best Truck, while Dave Olheiser won Best Street Rod. Best GM went to Ryan Moe, who also took the cake with Best in Show.
Winning prizes may be high on the list of some, but there was no lack for activity or entertainment for those not slaving in front of the flames or polishing their hoods.
Music and dancing abounded on Main Street. Lindsey Wingerter instructed a dance group that performed line-dances. Lonesome Willy entertained the crowd during dinner and Branded kept the party going for the night’s street dance. There was even a good show in the Chicken Dance.
A sweep down the street provided an old-fashioned photo booth for dressing up, inflatables for kids and a live demonstration of metal art by Michael Lewis.
The forever supportive nature of Watford City and the McKenzie County community was also present in many of the booth’s support of Clara Wisness’s fight against leukemia. The Clueless Cookers from Hamm & Phillips were among her many supporters. They sold over 400 hot dogs and hamburgers during the day and all proceeds went to fund her medical expenses.
“The event just keeps getting bigger every year thanks to the enthusiasm of our committee and their commitment to making this event the best it can be,” says Jessie Scofield, chairperson for the Ribfest Committee. “It’s something the community looks forward to each year, and each year the bar gets set a little higher.”
Taking a break from the rush of summer work, locals, transplants and visitors alike were out in force to celebrate the nearly decade-old tradition and they certainly were not disappointed.