2010, another year, another rib glut! For years, we have made it a point to attend this annual festival devoted to pork ribs. I have to say this year, it was bigger and busier than I have seen, ever.
Around Victorian Square, there have been many changes this past year in terms of buildings being demolished and turned into parking lots. The city bus system opened a new station as well, so there were just general improvements for access to the cook-off.
We arrived mid-afternoon and walked to see what was available, end to end. It was a long, slow walk because the amount of people was incredible. We checked out the vendors. A whole area was set up in front of the theaters, row upon row of tents of vendors, more than I have ever seen there before.
They even had a tiny carnival set up for kids with a midway where you could win a hermit crab. They thought of everything this year.
We returned to the Nugget to relax in the hotel room before dinner time. We had procured two tickets to the Rib Village. In past years, we did things the hard way. You take a ton of money, stand in long lines, get a sampler, find a place to stand and wolf down the sampler. Repeat until you are ill. Make note of which brand you want to actually buy a whole rack from to take home to eat the next day. And with two kids getting jostled in the monster stroller, this has become a huge mission.
Anymore, we get the Rib Village tickets. It's totally worth having a place to sit, a buffet of all you can eat ribs, and someone to bring your drinks. TOTALLY WORTH IT, especially with our moody, cranky kids. (P.S. They stayed home with Grandpa Johnnie and Grandma Ruthie so this was sort of a date night for us this time.)
About 6:30, we left the room, ready for ribs. Rib Village was busy, but the food line was short. Justin and I each loaded our plates with a variety of ribs and sauces.
My favorite this year was BJ's of Sparks. We go to the the restaurant regularly, but the ribs there simply do not compare to their cook-off ribs.
My second favorite was Aussom Aussie. They have a fantastic raspberry BBQ sauce. My third favorite was Johnson's. I don't remember where they were from. I tried many others and neglected to eat them all. I decided if they weren't great, I wasn't going to bother eating the ho-hum ones.
I'm not going to predict any winners because I've noticed with ribs that each batch is a little different. The ones the judges eat aren't necessarily identical to the ribs served in Rib Village. It is just the nature of ribs that the sauce may cook into each batch a little differently, the smokiness changes, some pigs are more tender than others.
We were fortunate to be able to enjoy the live concert of the evening, performed by the Gin Blossoms. They had a few technical issues, but overall I enjoyed the performance.
It was also nice to see lead singer Robin Wilson high-fiving the kids in the audience. The family-friendly performance was definitely enjoyed by all ages.
Ah, my dear rib-slinging friends, I will see you all next year. And for a few of you local companies, I will see much sooner than that. Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub!