Posted 8/11/15 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
I’ve got to admit that I’ve never met a barbecued rib that I didn’t like. I don’t care if the ribs are dry-rubbed, smoked or coated with some tasty sauce, I’m willing to give them a chance to satisfy my hankering for some lip-smacking, finger-licking goodness.
But, I have to admit that this year’s Best of the West Ribfest completely wore me out. With 18 teams grilling their special ribs, I was presented with the ultimate test. To be completely honest, I failed. And when I say I failed, it was a miserable failure. Of the 18 booths that were hawking their ribs, I could only manage to make it through six booths.
For that lack of eating ability, I’m both sorry and grateful.
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to every booth. If you were at this year’s Ribfest, you probably have the same feeling of disappointment. It’s kind of like going to the pie booth at the McKenzie County Fair and not being able to eat a slice of each and every type of pie that they have. There are so many options and only one stomach and you just don’t have the time to be able to sample everything.
And I’m grateful that I didn’t make it to every Ribfest booth. Quite literally if I had, I would have ended up in the hospital’s emergency room on a rib overdose.
Ribfest was great! And everyone who played a part in making it one of our premiere summer events needs to be congratulated. And that includes all of the Ribfest Committee, the people that lined up the games and musical entertainment, and those involved in organizing the car show. But the real thanks needs to go to the Ribfest teams who showed up and toiled the long hours to produce some of the best-eating ribs that have ever been featured at our Ribfest.
And with those thanks, I would also like to offer a little constructive criticism on piling on too many other events on Ribfest. I don’t know how many other people feel the same way as I do, but I think having three big events on one weekend is just too much.
Ribfest is a stand-alone event that should be able to last until 10 p.m. or later. Likewise, the Bash on the Grass concert and the Professional Bull Riding event can be stand-alone events. With Watford City’s and McKenzie County’s population continuing to grow, there shouldn’t be a problem for big events, such as the PBR and Bash on the Grass, to be able to draw the crowds that they need.
It was obvious this year that the Bash on the Grass impacted Ribfest, especially when the concert started at 7:30 p.m. It forced people that wanted to experience both of these events to their fullest to have to make choices. Some people and families stayed downtown to enjoy Ribfest, while others pulled out of Ribfest early and headed to the fairgrounds and the concert.
Obviously, Saturday’s PBR event didn’t have the scheduling conflict that we saw on Friday. But one has to wonder if more people would have attended the Fire Fighter’s Challenge had they not just spent all day Friday at Ribfest and the Bash on the Grass?
The question, from my perspective, is it better to have all three events on one weekend? Or is it better to have them on two or three different weekends?
There are pros and cons to both ideas. All are great events and in the end, the goal should be to draw the biggest crowds that they can without negatively impacting each other.