Grab your forks and napkins and get ready to dig into some serious barbecue at Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest this weekend.
Organizers are excited to bring in even more cooks by adding a new rib cooking competition. Local teams of amateurs will compete in the Lip Smackin' Barbeque Smack Down Community Cook-off Sunday.
If you goWhat: Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest
When: 4:30 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 11-12; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 13; 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 14
Where: Sunset Park, 5200 Miller Road, Lake in the Hills
Admission: $5 for adults, free for kids 12 and younger and free for active military with military ID
Professional rib vendors: Pigfoot Barbeque, Howlin' Coyote, Smokin' Joe's, MoJo's, Texas Outlaw Barbeque, Armadillo, Uncle Bub's, Cherry Red Roasters
Competing amateurs: Papa Sean's, Ace of Diamonds, Mixons Minions, Smokin' Tasty, The Garage Museum, Three Pigs and a Chick, Lizard's Ribs
"In the spirit of a local festival, we wanted to get local, backyard cookers involved," said Thomas Stock, the festival's chairman of sponsorships and marketing who is organizing the competition.
The eighth annual Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest kicked off Thursday, July 11. On Friday, July 12, the gates open at 4:30 p.m. with more music, food and fun until 11 p.m. On Saturday, July 13, the festival will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., with a car show from noon to 3 p.m. Gates open Sunday at 11:30 a.m., and the festivities continue until 7 p.m.
For four straight days, locals can enjoy music from regional and national talents, activity booths, beverages, a car show, and of course, ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork and other barbecued meats.
"I take a global view of the event," said Jim Wales, chair of the festival. "I really enjoy the fact that when you have the different entertainment sources … it brings the community together, and it's an event for the community," he said.
Food service provided by professional rib cookers will continue throughout the four days; with vendors hailing from Ohio to Texas and even Australia. The pros will compete in a three-day competition for the people's choice award, with the winner judging the new amateur contest.
Along with bragging rights, amateurs will compete for first-, second- and third-prize awards that will be given out in front of the main stage at 6:15 p.m. Sunday.
With the variety of rib-cooking styles, rib tasters won't be short on options, Stock said.
"Everyone has their own twist," Stock said of both the professional cookers and the amateur competitors.
Regarding the new contest, Wales, chairman of the festival, said his goal was to not change a good festival, but enhance it, which is how he chose the music lineup for this year's festival.
"We always try to mix it up," he said. And indeed, cover bands from a variety of genres are the theme of this year's rib festival, with one nationally known exception: Saturday night's Soul Asylum.
Proceeds from the festival benefit the Rotary Club of Lake in the Hills, and Wales said he hopes people come out because, "The success of the event allows Rotary club to put back a lot of funds in the community and international community."
Stock, a longtime resident of Lake in the Hills, agreed, adding the local projects are the priority because the club receives so much support from the community and members want to give something back, like the recent funding for the new building for the Lake in the Hills Food Pantry.
Stock said he's looking forward to providing a good show for the community, but he's also excited to trying the competing racks of meat, especially his favorite, the St. Louis style.
Visit www.lithribfest.com for a detailed list of scheduled events.