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Published: Sunday, 8/11/2013

‘All ribs are good,’ finding the best can be fun

Fairgrounds fest predicted to draw 40,000

BY ARIELLE STAMBLER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dominic Arnold, 10, center, brother Donovan, 12, and their father Josh Arnold of Toledo put rib bones to the test at the annual rib-off fest at the Lucas County Fairgrounds. Dominic Arnold, 10, center, brother Donovan, 12, and their father Josh Arnold of Toledo put rib bones to the test at the annual rib-off fest at the Lucas County Fairgrounds.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Phil “Boomer” Christie considers himself an artist.

A rib artist, that is.

The Texas native is spending this weekend rubbing, marinating, and smoking ribs at the 30th annual Northwest Ohio Rib-Off at the Lucas County Fairgrounds.

The event runs through Sunday and features six national rib vendors and four local vendors.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see more photos from the event

Bret Michaels played Friday night and Kansas is the featured entertainment today.

Although this is only his third year at the event, Mr. Christie said that Armadillo’s BBQ & Ribs, the stand where he works, has been coming to the Rib-Off for 18 years.

“We’ve got a southern barbecue and we’re bringing it north,” Mr. Christie said.

After distributing his stand’s three-rib sampler to customers, he loves watching expressions as they sink their teeth into their first bite.

Mike Baumgartner, the event’s food and beverage director, predicts 40,000 people will attend the weekend festivities, making it one of Ohio’s three largest rib festivals.

Visitors Friday afternoon heard Motown-style soul band Bruce Sims and the Jamm while perusing the white, smoke-filled tents sprawled across the fairgrounds.

Not all were impressed by every vendor.

Shonna and Tom Skalla drove two and a half hours from Niles, Mich., just for the Rib-Off.

Mr. Skalla said rib-offs are his idea of heaven.

Jesse McDay of ‘We Are Ribs’ of Toledo prepares the main attraction on his massive grill during the 30th an­nual North­west Ohio Rib-Off in Maumee. The event continues today and Sunday. Jesse McDay of ‘We Are Ribs’ of Toledo prepares the main attraction on his massive grill during the 30th an­nual North­west Ohio Rib-Off in Maumee. The event continues today and Sunday.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

After trying four vendors’ offerings, though, Mrs. Skalla had yet to find ribs that she deemed moist, falling off the bone, and not in need of sauce to taste good.

“None of them even compare to my husband’s,” she said.

Mr. Skalla qualified her statement. “All ribs are good. Just some’s better than others,” he said.

Darren Wilde lives down the street from the fairgrounds and said the Rib-Off’s smoky-sweet smell draws him every year — sometimes for all four days.

He has developed a strategy of trying ribs from all the vendors and deciding for himself which is best.

“I’ll try the national ribs first and then move closer to Ohio,” he said.

Hollywood Casino Toledo was one of the local vendors present.

Chef Adam Fruehauf said the event was a fabulous way to be part of the community.

Three awards will be given out Sunday.

Visitors can text their votes for the best national and best local ribber all weekend long.

Contact Arielle Stambler at: astambler@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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