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Published: Tuesday, 8/2/2005

Ribbers roll into town for Rib-Off

Toledo is on the rib circuit. National ribbers join a cadre of local experts with their grills and smokers for the Northwest Ohio Rib-Off, held in Promenade Park Thursday through Sunday.

You'll see Jerry Gibson, owner of Pigfoot Barbecue Co. of West Salem, Ohio, along with seven other national ribbers and nine local rib restaurants vying for the Golden Rib Award.

He may feel lucky as Pigfoot is fresh off a win as champion of the Celebrity's Choice contest at the Columbus Jazz & Rib Fest July 22-24. Mr. Gibson, who is the president-elect of the National Barbecue Cookers Association, says that national ribbers use a Louisiana rib; it's a sparerib in which the tip is cut off, which gives more meat. "We only compete with St. Louis cut ribs," he said in a phone interview last Wednesday from a rib competition in Minnesota. "The back loin rib doesn't have as much meat and can be dry."

Patty Mazur, director of events for United Health Services, which sponsors the annual event in downtown Toledo, attended the Columbus Jazz & Rib Fest with Lyn Doll, executive director of UHS. It gave Ms. Mazur a chance to meet the other rib contenders who are regulars on the rib circuit and at the Toledo Rib-Off:

Armadillos of Youngstown; Butch's BBQ & Rib Co. of Mt. Laurel, N.J.; Chicago Barbecue & Rib Company of Burridge, Ill.; Hank's Old Tyme Barbecue of Mansfield, Ohio; Johnson's BBQ of Chesapeake, Va.; Sgt. Oinks Pit BBQ of Tiffin, and Texas Outlaws of Elizabethtown, Ky.

In addition to the national ribbers, nine of Toledo's best rib restaurants and caterers are participating in the Northwest Ohio Rib-Off: the Shrimp Hut (which won the 2004 Golden Rib Award), Doc's of Tontogany; Max & Erma's; Mr. Beefy's American Roadhouse of Perrysburg and Oregon (which won the 2004 People's Choice Award); Po Mo's of Toledo; Shorty's bar-b-que of Toledo; Sidelines Sports Eatery & Pub of Lambertville.; Texas Roadhouse of Holland, and Ground Round of Toledo.

In addition to ribs, watch for pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, cole slaw, deep-fried veggies, and smoothies from Gary's Concessions, Daryl's Ice Cream, Bray's Funnel Cake Factory, Almond's R Nuts, Oasis Beverages, and more.

Judging for the Golden Rib Award begins at 1 p.m. Sunday with a team of judges. People's Choice voting starts on Thursday and runs through 3 p.m. Sunday, according to Ms. Mazur. Winners of both competitions will be announced at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $2 (except for 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, when it is free). Children under 12 accompanied by an adult are free. Each ribber must sell a sampler of three bones for $3. Other foods are individually priced. Proceeds benefit the member agencies of United Health Services.

A second, unrelated event: In downtown Findlay, the 11th annual Rib-Off on Broadway will be from 6 to midnight on Friday. Sponsored by the Arts Partnership of Greater Hancock County, the Rib-Off on Broadway features four veteran participants - Fricker's, Kimmel Mountain Man Meats, Red Pig Inn, and Tony's Restaurant and Pub - plus four new restaurants - Big Moe's BBQ, Cheddar's Casual

Cafe, Diamond River, and D Rays Barbecue. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under (children in strollers are free). Rib vendors will compete for Peoples Choice Award and Judge's Choice.

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