Friday was opening day of this year’s Ribfest Chicago and the festival was tipped off with a professional ribs eating contest. By this time last year I had already seen four eating contests so I was anxious to get my season rolling!
Six o’clock rolled around and tin trays of barbecued slabs were placed across the table. The RibMania trophy was placed front and center. And each of the contestants were announced, from fellow fans to Ribfest junkies. Then the number 26th ranked Ben Taylor. The number 8 ranked Erik “The Red” Denmark. Chicago North sider and number 10 ranked Tim “Gravy” Brown. And Chicago South sider and number 4 ranked Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti.
While just a few miles away at Wrigley the Sox were facing the cubs in the Crosstown Classic we had right there our own “crosstown chowdown.”
The eaters took their places ready to dig in and the audience counted down for them to start chewing.
The contest was crazy. Each food and each eater has a different technique. For ribs, while some of the locals seemed to eat them bone by own as, well, most normal sane people would eat a rib, the pros seemed to combine pulling them from the bone with their teeth and stripping them with their hands and taking handfuls of the meat into their mouths.
It was a crazy, messy contest, and while my eyes were definitely on Pat and Tim and Erik, you had to look at Ben who seemed to be living up to his moniker of “Wolf”
Trays and trays of ribs went down. And the eight minute clock ticked away as each eater tried to keep up the momentum and get more and more down.
Seconds shy of eight minutes we counted down, and everyone stuffed that last bit in. And then we waited while trays were weighed.
And then the results…
In third: Erik “The Red’ Denmark…
In second, in a bit of an upset, so much so that it even seemed to surprise him: Ben “The Wolf” Taylor…
In first: Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti (making it two wins for the South side that day thank you very much White Sox).
Oh, and I got ribsauce on my brand new shoes :-( I should probably know better than to wear new shoes in the splash zone of a ribs eating contest…
After the contest my friend and I stuck around Ribfest for a bit. We watched some Mucca Pazza (an amazing local “circus-punk marching band”).
And we shared some ribs (from PitchFork and Browntrout) which were all delicious.
Really, any festival that revolves around food is A-OK in my book. And Chicago, and the rest of the country, are full of them in the summer! What festivals do you look forward to each year?