MADISON, Ind. (August 2004) The tantalizing aroma of slow-roasted
meat wafting through the air will no doubt lure a crowd to the riverfront
for the third annual Madison Ribberfest, a two-day festival of Barbeque,
Blues & Balloons.
by Don Ward
Madison Ribberfest music stage
features nonstop action.
Scheduled for Aug. 20-21 along Vaughn Drive will be a row of cookers
manned by competitors in the Indiana State Barbecue Cook-Off Championship,
while regional and national blues bands entertain spectators. Topping
off the event will be a hot air balloon glow on Friday evening, and
two balloon race on Saturday. Also Friday evening, dozens of area
amateur competitors will take part in the Backyard BBQ Blast.
Its a great festival to meet local people and enjoy Madisons
riverfront with the background of blues music, said event director
First held in 2002, Ribberfest is one of more than 70 events this
year nationwide sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. It
has grown into a much-anticipated event for both local and national
competitors. Last year, 37 teams entered the competition, according
to event co-chair Shawn Auxier. This year, Ribberfest is the state
championship and automatic qualifier for the KCBS American Royal national
competition, which will be held in Kansas City in October. It is also
a feeder for the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational
Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tenn., an invitation only event.
Youll get teams from all over the world competing in that
event, said Auxier.
The Madison-based team, Pig Pak, which includes John Branigan, Mike
DeShong, David Baratti and Merrill Nay, last year took home Ribberfests
coveted Best of Jefferson County award. The team travels
regularly around the region to compete.
Of the many competitions in which he has competed, Nay said Madison
is one of the best. The facilities are good and the organizers
do an awfully good job of welcoming all the cookers, he said.
Ribberfest team registration begins at noon Thursday, Aug. 19. Teams
may set up but will not be allowed to begin cooking until after a
meat inspection Friday morning. Cook-off categories are chicken, pork
ribs, pork (which includes Boston butt, picnic or whole shoulder),
beef brisket, barbecue sauce, dessert and open (any meat other than
those previously listed). Of these, only the first four qualify for
KCBS sanctioning and determine the Grand and Reserve Grand Champions.
Judging is very specific and is conducted according to KCBS rules.
Cash and awards totaling more than $10,000 will be presented to the
top three finishers in each category.
by Don Ward
Irish Team at the 2003 festival.
Along with the KCBS qualifier, on Friday, Aug. 20, will be the Backyard
BBQ Blast, open to amateur cooks. We look at ourselves as kind
of an incubator to the pro teams, said Blast chairman Steve
Thomas. Awards will be presented to the top three places in ribs,
pork, beef, poultry and game or other meats. Special prizes will also
be awarded for best original sauce, best original spice rub, best
barbecue team and peoples choice. The Blast will take place
in the asphalt lot on Vaughn Drive between Poplar and Central streets.
We really encourage our local people to sign up, said
Each year the blast has grown in competing teams, and since its first
year the types of entries submitted has doubled, said Thomas. He added
that the event is a great opportunity for local businesses to encourage
Last year, 24 teams participated in the Blast. Taking first place
in ribs and chicken was Smoked Signals, comprised of Doug Spiller,
his wife, JoAnne, and parents, Don and Diane Spiller. Spiller, whose
team this year will move up to the KCBS-sanctioned competition, said
he would encourage anyone who enjoys cooking to enter. Its
only 10 bucks to compete, and youre definitely going to learn
something, Spiller said.
In addition to barbecue cooking, of which there will be plenty, throughout
the day Friday and Saturday will be a variety of family-oriented entertainment.
The blues band line-up will include Magic Slim, Sean Costello, Tab
Benoit Band, Jimmy D, The Blues Devils, Greg Schaber, Kid Ramos, Mark
Hummel and Grammy nominated headliner Marcia Ball.
For children through age 12 will be the Piglet Pen at
Kiwanis Park, sponsored by the Lide White Memorial Boys and Girls
Club. The area will include inflatable games, bouncing rooms and obstacle
courses by Adrenaline Force Amusements of Louisville. Children ages
8-12 can play in the area supervised by Piglet Pen volunteers; those
under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Piglet Pen will be open from
6-10 p.m. on Friday, noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 6-10 p.m. on Saturday.
Admission to the play area is $10 per session or $1 per ticket.
Near the area will be a rock climbing wall for adults and older children.
All proceeds from Piglet Pen will go toward the Boys and Girls Club,
according to organizer Ray Black.
Another Ribberfest favorite is the Hot Air Balloon Glow and Race,
sponsored by RE/MAX of Indiana and Gaylor. Balloons will light up
the Kentucky side of the river at 8 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, balloons
will take flight in two races, at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
More than 100 community members donate time and effort to making sure
that Ribberfest goes off without a hitch. This awesome event
could not be put on without all of the wonderful people who volunteer
their time preparing for it throughout the year, not just on the weekend
of, said Ayers.
Admission to Ribberfest is $15 for a two-day pass
through Aug. 1, which includes $10 in food and beverage tickets. After
Aug. 1, admission is $15 for a two-day pass but does not include food
and beverage tickets. Wristbands can be purchased at the entrance
gates, at West Street and Poplar Street for $10 per each day. Food
and beverage tickets will be sold at the festival, with the Madison
Jaycees Club operating two beer tents. Vendors will not accept cash.
For more information, visit: www.madisonribberfest.com