Visitors at the third annual Downtown Rib Throwdown in Grayslake were well served Sunday afternoon.
As a result, youth also was served, since proceeds from the event go to the Oasis-Grayslake Youth Center.
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"This is the best year ever," said Joyce Campbell, volunteer organizer, mainly because this was only year when it didn't rained all day.
With better weather came better attendance. More than 6,000 bones of ribs were expected to be sold this year, up from 5,400 bones last year. Rib lovers came so hungry that before the day's end last year's overall and people's choice winner, the Glunz Winery, had seen its supply of 45 slabs exhausted.
Eight teams competed, not counting the booth selling vegetarian options such as mac and cheese. The booth was operated by vegetarian Oasis volunteers. One of them, Youth Center board member Andi McCulloch, said the rib event is one of three major fundraisers.
"First and foremost, it keeps the doors open and gives the kids a place to go," she said of the Oasis. "We have got video games, a safe place for them to hang out. (Also), if kids don't have money to pay to get in for one of our concerts on the weekend, this allows us to let some of those kids in for free, even if they don't have money."
Of the eight competing teams, Ken's Burnt Ends of Hainesville grabbed two of the awards, the overall award and the spirit and decoration award. The latter was earned with a locomotive grill.
Ken's Joe Rich said the team found its grill on eBay through Ironhorse Barbecue in Oregon.
"There are 30 of them worldwide," Rich said.
Ken's captain, Ken Kolman said, "It draws a lot of people's attention. I love the locomotive. It cooks fantastic too.
Kolman credited the overall win to "a little bit of practice. Practice makes perfect. It was a combination of sauce, rubs, slabbing, everything. Everything clicks. Everything was good."
Moose's Barbecue of Salem, Wis., earned the people's choice award. Moose's is a true family business. On hand were Nick Schmidt Jr., his son Nick III and Nick III's son, Nick IV.
"It's the best kind of a compliment you can get," said Nick III, as stood next to his son and held the trophy, a miniature black grill.
Judging from the smiles on their sauce smudged faces, the festival was a hit with the customers.
"We're just thrilled to have it here in town," Karen Holtman of Grayslake said.