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The 20th annual Ribfest kicks off on Thursday [Sept. 9] and runs through Sunday at the Shawnee Park in Dunbar, featuring barbecue vendors from across the country and — for the first time — free admission, entertainment and parking.

“All the other years we used to charge a gate fee but I wanted to do something for all the people in West Virginia that’s struggling financially and want to come to an event where they can spend a little money and enjoy their time with their kids at the event, so we’re not charging at the gate or for parking. It’s all free,” said event organizer Bill Picozzi.

Daily free entertainment include a chicken wing eating contest and Mega ProWresting’s RibFest Rumble on Sunday afternoon as well as bands each evening. Food, drinks and carnival rides are available for purchase.

Festival attendees will be able to buy, try and vote on sauce and ribs from six different vendors, all with multiple awards to their credit. Dem Two Brothers & A Grill is the only West Virginia contender.

Attendees who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 are asked to wear a mask.

“Be American. Think of your fellow Americans and wear a mask,” said Picozzi.

“You don’t want to infect somebody else. You’d feel bad about it.”

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