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Festival preview

Popularity still growing
as Madison Ribberfest enters its fifth year

By Don Ward
Editor

(Aug. 11, 2006) – The Madison Ribberfest committee is eagerly putting the final touches on what appears to be another successful event for the popular festival as it enters its fifth year. Advance wristband sales of more than 3,000 topped last year’s figure, according to tourism officials. They are encouraged that the event continues to grow in popularity each year, and sponsorship of the various activities remains strong.

KCBS Judging

Photo by Don Ward

Perhaps the best part about
the Ribberfest is eating.

This year’s event is again sponsored by Gaylor Inc., an electrical contractor that provides industrial, commercial, telecommunication and maintenance services to its clients. The Blues Bash music program is again sponsored by Craig Toyota. Other major sponsors are Arvin Sango Inc. and RE/MAX.
Blues Bash committee members, meanwhile, say this is perhaps the strongest lineup of talent they have had on stage. The lineup includes headliners Roomful of Blues on Friday night and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, with founding member Kim Wilson, closing out the festival on Saturday night. The lineup also includes two local bands, Blues Devils and the Jimmy Davis Band, both performing on Saturday afternoon.
“We are very excited about this year’s show, and we think the public will enjoy it as well,” said John Walburn of the Blues Bash committee.
Festival goers will be able to enjoy delicious barbecue from vendors along the midway. The Madison Jaycees will once again staff the beer and wine tents.
The Lide White Memorial Boys & Girls Club Family & Community Center will again sponsor the Piglet Pen, a children’s play area to be set up near the Kiwanis Park baseball field. The area features games and inflatables, with adult supervision, allowing the parents to enjoy music at the nearby Blues Bash. There are three sessions planned for children to enter the Piglet Pen: 6-10 p.m. Friday; noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and 6-10 p.m. Saturday. Prices vary depending on children’s ages.
Admission wristbands are $20 for adults through Aug. 18, with children 12 and under free. Friday only admission wristbands are $10; Saturday only admission wristbands are $15. Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. Saturday.
Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed but festival goers are not allowed to bring in video or audio devices, coolers, food, beverages, pets, skateboards, bicycles, rollerblades or canopies.
In addition to great tasting barbecue and blues music, a hot air balloon glow will take place at 9 p.m. Hot air balloon races are scheduled for 7:15 a.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Saturday. Because of the high cost of insurance, no balloon rides will be sold again this year. But festival goers will be able to watch the balloons lift off Saturday evening from across the Ohio River in Milton, Ky.
Also in its second year, the “Kidz Q” cooking contest is scheduled for Saturday morning along the riverfront. This event offers children to compete in two age categories for a $500 U.S. Savings Bond. Children are provided a grill, charcoal and boneless chicken breasts for the competition. Winners will be announced on stage at 4 p.m. Saturday, along with the winners of the Kansas City Barbecue Society’s pro division cooking contest.
The KCBS-sanctioned event this year will feature 54 cooking teams, coming from all over the country. They will compete for the Indiana State Championship Cookoff title and an automatic berth in the KCBS’ national competition, to be held this fall in Kansas City, Mo.
As of press time on Aug. 10, defending Grand Champion, J Mack Cookers Too of Bardwell, Ky., had not registered. But Reserve Grand Champion (second place) team Ulcer Acres of Jacksonville, Ill., is back.
Two-time champion Music City Pig Pals of Nashville, Tenn., also will not appear at the Madison Ribberfest this year for the first time. In years past, Music City Pig Pals had the largest display on the midway, where it also sold its barbecue.
“We are sorry to hear that Lee and Bonnie McWright of Music City Pig Pals will not be with us this year, but we are excited about a record number of teams coming to Madison,” said Shawn Auxier, who co-chairs the KCBS contest with Drew Garrett.
The teams will set up on Friday and cook throughout the night, preparing their entries for Saturday’s judging. Nearly 60 KCBS-certified judges are scheduled to take part in the judging process to determine the winners in four cooking categories: pork ribs, chicken, pork and brisket. Teams also compete in optional categories of sauce, dessert and “anything but,” which this year will be dishes made using seafood.
Madison Ribberfest’s founding director Jeff Garrett died Oct. 30, 2005, and this year, his widow, Lisa Garrett and son, Drew, have created a new award that will be presented to a KCBS pro team that best exhibits the spirit of the Ribberfest as voted on by the teams themselves. This special award will be presented on stage Saturday afternoon.
The pig decorating contest called Pigmania, meanwhile, has attracted 39 concrete pigs this year, according to chairman Kevin Watkins. The contest allows the public to vote with their money on the best decorated pig. The money is used for academic scholarships for area students.
The pigs have been on display at area businesses since early July but during the festival they will be brought down to the riverfront and put on display inside the festival area. These colorful pigs have allowed local businesses to become involved in the event in a fun and artistic way, officials say.
Boaters arriving in Madison for the festival this year will be able to dock along the riverbank for a fee of $150, which includes water but no electricity. This fee will apply to those boaters docking between the city’s boat ramp and Crystal Beach, which is the area in front of the festival grounds. Larry Napier has entered an agreement with the city of Madison to operate the boat docks this summer. For information about boat dock space, call Madison City Hall at (8120 265-8300.

• For more information about the Madison Ribberfest, call the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at (812) 265-2956 or 1-800-559-2956. Or visit: www.MadisonRibberfest.com. To read coverage and see photos from this year’s festival, visit: www.RoundAboutMadison.com the week after the festival.

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