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Ribs take center stage at Ribfest

Posted 8/05/15 (Wed)

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

Over 5,000 pounds of ribs will be smoked, barbecued, slow-cooked,  or baked at this year’s 12th Annual Best of the West Ribfest in Watford City on Friday, Aug. 7.
Concessions and the Street Fair will start at 10 a.m. and the Rib Contest will take place at 5 p.m. Main Street will be open for the public to enjoy lunch, live music featuring Medora’s Burning Hills Singers, Kristi Goldade, Lonesome Willy, Jessie Veeder with Outlaw Sippin,’ and other great talent.
“Seven teams will be selling lunch on Main Street,” said Mary Gumke,  Watford City Chamber of Commerce secretary. “Everything from brats and burgers to pulled pork sandwiches to hot dogs will be available to the public.”
 And according to Gumke, nine vendors will be open all day, starting at 10 a.m., offering everything from ice cream floats and sundaes to specialty lemonade to smoothie frappuccinos. There will even be a taco truck and the hockey team will be selling burgers. Gumke says they definitely have a good variety of food vendors this year for both lunch and dinner, in addition to the large variety of ribs to be served.
Ribfest-goers can also enjoy children’s games and inflatables, and enter their kids into the Western Wear Showdown and Diaper Derby that will take place after the Burning Hills Singers performance at noon, with prizes awarded for the best western wear.
“There will be six different Jump-N-Fun inflatables for the kids to enjoy,” said Gumke. “They’ll be free for kids 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult. We’re also going to have a face painter there who will paint kids’ faces free of charge as well.”
The Children’s Showdown will start at 1 p.m. and children of all ages are invited to dress up in their western gear. And at 1:30 p.m., Diaper Derby Children who are crawling or just learning to walk will race to the finish line.
The public will also enjoy the Antique Classic Car & Truck Show and a few friendly rounds of Bingo during the day.
“It’s a good time for everyone to relax and get together,” said Robin Greenhagen, organizer for this year’s Antique Car & Truck Show. “There’s a lot of people who have the older classic and muscle cars. There’s a lot more classic cars and muscle cars around the region than people really know about. So whether you’re bringing a car or just coming to the show to look at the cars, it’s just a really nice summer break for everyone to come out and have a good time.”
With the infamous dirt-ridden and rock roads of North Dakota, it’s not often that classic and muscle car owners get their cars and trucks out for a nice leisurely drive around town or even around the county roads. So, according to Greenhagen, the Antique Car & Truck Show will be a good time for those vehicle owners to get their cars and trucks out, dust them off, and be with people of the same mind-set.
With 20 to 30 cars present in past shows, Greenhagen is hoping for even more this year.
“We’ve had 20 to 30 cars in the past and this year we’re going to try and get as many as we can,” said Greenhagen. “We’d like to attract people from all over. And I guarantee you, there’s no other car show in the country with better food than this one. It’s all about the great food!”
This year’s Antique Car & Truck Show has expanded, as far as classes go. A ‘Best in Truck’ and a ‘Kid’s Choice Award’ have both been added for the competitors this year. Other classes include Best Paint, Best GM, Best Engine, Best Modern Muscle, Best Ford, Best Mopoar, Best Pre-War, and People’s Choice.
“We’re trying to get more kids involved so we can keep this hobby alive,” said Greenhagen. “That was our thought behind adding a ‘Kid’s Choice Award’ this year. Kids have a different perspective than us adults do.”
The Antique Car & Truck Show will begin Friday at noon and go until 7 p.m. on Main Street. Judging will begin at 4 p.m. with an award presentation to follow at 5 p.m.
There will be street vendors and several ping-pong drops that will offer special deals from Main Street businesses. Bingo will start at 2 p.m., followed by Ribfest’s favorite Bommgrass duo, Gettin’ Outta Dodge, who will be performing at 3 p.m.
“The ping-pong drops will take place at random times throughout the day on Main Street, between noon and 8 p.m.,” said Gumke. “We hit the ping-pong balls out into the crowd and each person that gets a ball will have to take that ball to the team, vendor, or business that sponsored it to redeem whatever is written on the ball. We hit out about 200 balls last year and I imagine we’re pretty close to that this year.”
This is the first year Ribfest team contestants will be competing amongst each other in fun games and contests throughout the day from noon to 4 p.m. Then, ribs will be served from 5 until 9 p.m. With 20-plus teams competing in this year’s Ribfest competition, there are both returning teams and new teams.
“We’re going to be having our first annual Rib Team games this year,” said Gumke. “We are also bringing back a ‘People’s Choice’ Award for the Rib Teams to compete for. We’ve done it in past years and thought it would be fun to bring that award back. So people need to stop by the Chamber’s booth to pick up a wooden nickle. That’s how they’ll vote. They’ll put their nickle into their favorite Rib Team’s collection container at their booth.”
A $1,000 prize will be awarded for the team with the best ribs. Second place will receive $500, and there will be a $250 prize for booth showmanship.
“It’s a great time to grow as a team outside the office,” said Phillip Riely, E & M Ribfest Team member and vice president of operations at E & M Services LLC. “This will be the second year for the E & M Team. We purchased a new smoker for the event and we’re excited about using it. We’re cooking 300 pounds of ribs. We’ll also be serving brats for lunch and will be offering Cracker Jacks, Big League chew, and a few other things. Family is E & M’s number one core value and things like this help our family grow closer. And we get out of the office for the day!”
The E & M Team says that if they win, they plan on donating all their winnings to the foster care program, same as they did last year. South Park Lounge won over the judges’ tastebuds and took First Place in last year’s Rib Contest - it was their first year competing. Second Place went to Target Logistics and Showmanship was awarded to Exhilarated Productions.
After Ribfest, the public is encouraged to hit up the 2nd Annual Bash on the Grass Concert Series, featuring a concert by Sawyer Brown and Chris Cagle. Brown and Cagle will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the McKenzie County Fairgrounds. Gates will open at 6:30 p.m.
“Bringing these big names to an already-popular event is pretty exciting,” says Ribfest Committee Chair Jessie Veeder, about working with Bash on the Grass. “We hope people will be able to take in both the Street Fair and Ribfest and the concert in the evening.”
Bringing everything together to make a successful Ribfest doesn’t just take one or two people. It takes an entire team.
“We have a wonderful committee,” says Gumke. “We don’t have to worry about anything getting done. Everyone has been great about doing their part and it has successfully come together. I can’t wait to see it all play out on Friday.”
“Ribfest just gets bigger and better every year,” said Janel Lee, Ribfest Committee member. “It’s a great way to bring the community together and celebrate the best parts of summer - music, friends, and food!”