Tantalizing aromas, sizzling grills, and blistering guitar licks, will fill the air in August during the 31st Annual Northwest Ohio Rib-Off, presented by The Blade.
The event unfolds Aug. 7 through Aug. 10 at the Lucas County Fairgrounds in Maumee and will feature the musical stylings of controversial Detroit rocker Ted Nugent, veteran Motown band War, and a third act still to be determined.
As in past years, the primary focus of the event will be your taste buds via fall-off-the-bone-good ribs, the very best that national prize-winners and local favorites have to offer. Seven teams, many of whom are regulars on the competitive barbecue circuit, and three Toledo-area restaurants will be cooking with their pride on the line (or, rather, on the grill). A panel of celebrity judges will be tasting all of the grilled, glazed, and garnished ribs to name the best in northwest Ohio. But there’s also the coveted People’s Choice Award, voted on by those lucky enough to be in attendance. Raise your hand, still sticky with barbecue sauce, and cast your vote.
In the course of three decades the rib-off has grown into a major summertime draw.
“Over the entire four days [the crowd is] probably somewhere around 80,000 people,” said Mike Mori, event director. “It’s the largest concert series in Toledo. Thirty years ago it started as a food event with local music. In those days it was held in Promenade Park. When it moved to the fairgrounds it began bringing in national acts at night. Now [because of the food TV craze] it’s kind of getting back to an emphasis on food.”
To that end, Mori said each vendor is required to offer at least one lower-priced food item, which often means a barbecue chicken sampler for $5. Of course, patrons can find pricier fare from there, including a rack of ribs for $20.
As for the music, Mori said that continues to be a draw.
“You just can’t see a national act for $12 anymore and get right up front,” he said. “It’s $80 to see anyone at the zoo or Huntington Center.”
American funk band War kicks things off Aug. 7, followed by the “Wango Tango” on Aug. 8 with rock legend Ted Nugent. Seating for the concerts is limited, with tickets priced at $6 in advance or $10 at the gate for War, with advance VIP tickets costing $22.50. Tickets to see Ted Nugent are $8 in advance or $12 at the gate; VIP tickets are $29.50 in advance.
Hours for the Rib-Off will be 4 to 11 p.m. Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free until 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Entry is free all day on Sunday under the sponsorship of the Cedar Creek Church, which will be providing music for the day.
Advance concert tickets go on sale Saturday and can be purchased at any Tireman or The Andersons location (general admission only); the Stranahan Theater Box Office in person or at 419-381-8851 (general admission or VIP); and etix.com (general admission or VIP). Tickets are only available at the Fairgrounds gate on the day of each show.