After 16 years, Ribfest founder Bill Picozzi never tires of talking about his annual, four-day food festival, now located at Shawnee Park in Dunbar.
“The food is amazing,” he said.
“We have a carnival and rides and concerts, but the core thing is the barbecued rib vendors. People literally wait an entire year to come out and eat the delicious ribs, chicken and sausage they serve.
“It’s like the state fair, but with an emphasis on world-class barbecued ribs.”
Picozzi added there’s something at Ribfest for everybody.
“Every now and again, I have somebody come up to me and say they don’t come to Ribfest because they don’t like ribs.”
Perish the thought, but Picozzi pointed out festival vendors also have fish and shrimp, steak, pulled pork barbecue sandwiches — plus all kinds of desserts.
“If you’re a vegetarian, we’ve got blooming onions, vegetable plates and rice. It’s there,” he said.
A deep-fried blooming onion as a vegetarian option might be a stretch, particularly as a healthy option, but Ribfest isn’t exactly an event devoted to healthy eating. It’s a special occasion food and while a dieter could probably find something to eat, why bother?
This year’s Ribfest features two new rib vendors. The first is Texas Smoked Barbecue, a barbecue company from New Jersey.
Scott Reid, the owner and head barbecue chef for the company acknowledged that Texas barbecue and New Jersey sounded a little odd, but that it’s all about love: a love for barbecue.
“I fell in love with the art of barbecue in Texas. So, I trained in Texas, worked in Texas and then brought it back home to New Jersey,” he said.
So far, so good for Texas Smoked Barbecue.
Reid said, “We’ve won some championships here in the northeast and we’re looking forward to coming down to West Virginia. We’ve heard nothing but great things.”
Ribfest will also include its first local rib vendor, Dem 2 Brothers and a Grill, from Charleston’s West Side.
Picozzi said he’s wanted to add a world class rib vendor from West Virginia for years.
“Dem 2 Brothers have really stepped up to the plate,” he said.
Aside from the food, Picozzi said people could expect to see the usual collection of carnival rides, games.
“We’ve got a kids zone this year,” he said. “We’re bringing in one of the largest traveling zoos in the country. It’s got kangaroos, an exotic reptile display and lots of things.”
Picozzi there was plenty to do, but of course, it’s still mostly about the ribs.
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5195 or follow @LostHwys on Twitter.