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Ribs on the River puts local chefs to the test

Ribs on the River

♦ July 14

♦ Bicentennial Riverfront Park, 131 E. Hydraulic St., Yorkville

♦ Free

♦ (630) 553-435


Updated: July 13, 2012 10:36AM

Yorkville will honor the backyard grill masters — and a classic American dish — with its first-ever Ribs on the River event.

Ribs on the River will be from noon to 10 p.m. July 14 at Bicentennial Riverfront Park in Yorkville. Admission is free.

There will be as many as 24 rib-grilling contestants, 14 craft vendors and two bands, said organizer Chris Funkhouser, a Yorkville third ward alderman.

Awards will be presented at 6 p.m.

“My neighbor and I were talking about this, and he’s a real big barbecue guy. And he asked, ‘Why don’t we have something like this in Yorkville,’” he said. “After some thought, we decided to do something. After several months … we managed to get this going with the park board and the city. I think it’s a great fit for us. We now have a food-based event.”

The event, he said, is open to backyard barbecuers and amateurs only. No professionals allowed.

“It’s a rather informal format. It’s non-sanctioned, which means it doesn’t follow any of the three major barbecuing guidelines,” he said.

In order to keep it simple for the inaugural event, they are limiting the fare to ribs only.

“We wanted it to be one product, one contest, one simple item,” he said. “We have three criteria: taste, tenderness and appearance.”

When you get down to the park and your mouth starts watering at the delectable smells, grab some wet-wipes and fear not. You can eat the finished product. Contestants are allowed to sell their barbecued ribs for $3 for two ribs, he said.

“That allows them to make a little bit of their money back in case they don’t win, and allows them to interact with the public,” he said.

To make things even more interesting, fest-goers can buy raffle tickets and cast their votes for their favorite ribs, he said. Whoever receives the most votes will get half the pot, with the other half going to the randomly drawn ticket holder.

“It’s another way to interact with the public,” he said.

The band Epic will play from 7 to 10 p.m., with a DJ throughout the day. There will also be a beverage tent featuring craft beer from the local Three Angels Brewery.

Crafters will not be allowed to sell beverages or competitive food products, he said. But everything else, like barbecue sauce, is up for grabs.

“We think it is going to be hot but a lot of fun,” he said. “We’re hoping we have people come out for both events. There’s going to be a lot of music, a lot of food, and it’s right on the river. This is a well-rounded event where the whole family can get out and have a good time.”

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