Gregory Meredith grills ribs for his Po Mo's Ribs of Toledo booth at the Smoke on the Water rib festival at Promenade Park. Proceeds benefit the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
Messy fingers - sticky with sweet, savory, and in some cases spicy sauce - took over Promenade Park in downtown Toledo Saturday afternoon.
At the annual Columbia Gas of Ohio Smoke on the Water - Ribs for the Red Cross festival, a dozen rib vendors from as far away as Euless, Texas, and as nearby as Front Street dished out hefty plates of meaty ribs.
Whether chowing down at a picnic table or waiting in line for that first plate, attendees said they came for the music, the food, and the breeze blowing off the river.
Scooping the last pieces of meat from her paper plate, 9-year-old Mai-Le Murlless gave the festival two barbecue-covered thumbs up.
"We come to the festival every year," said her father, Rob Murlless of Adrian.
And just as some of the vendors had come from afar to be at the event, so too had some of the attendees.
John Caruana chows down on ribs from Texas Thunder. Mr. Caruana and seven friends traveled from Windsor, Ont.
Hailing from Windsor, Ont., eight friends said they decided to boat across the border to attend the festival after reading about it in their local paper.
The ribs, they said, were worth it.
"Black Kettle's were the best - I like the sauce and the meat had a lot of smoky flavor," said John Caruana, who also tried ribs from Johnson's BarBeQue and Chicago BBQ Co.
Toward the middle of the afternoon, politics took center stage as five candidates for Toledo mayor were allotted 15 minutes of stage time.
The majority explained in varying degrees of detail their plans for the city. But Democrat candidate and Lucas County commissioner Ben Konop gave his time to three local musicians, who performed an original song and Journey favorite "Don't Stop Believing."
D. Michael Collins, who is running as an Independent, spoke first and gave the longest speech of the day at just less than 15 minutes.
In just less than five minutes, Democrat Keith Wilkowski stressed the importance of family values and job creation and complimented his competitors.
Next, Republican Jim Moody used eight minutes to emphasize his business savvy and ability to "create jobs without using tax-payer money."
Independent candidate Mike Bell's six-minute talk focused on personal responsibility and the need for Toledoans to start asking themselves what they can do for Toledo, not what Toledo's government can do for them.
In addition to the ribs, festival-goers indulged in other goodies, including fresh roasted nuts, funnel cake, and Gary's World Famous Blooming Onions.
And while the festival was certainly not wanting for food, one signature dish was noticeably absent: corn on the cob.
Not one of the festival's smoker-toting, rib-saucing, or even potato-frying vendors was selling the barbecue staple.
The festival continues today from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with musical performances by Mojoe Boes & His Noble Jones, Empire Drift, and Chuck Wicks.
Admission is $3; children 12 and younger are free.
Contact Florence Dethy at: