Soooooo…… I actually did quite a bit of labor this past Labor Day, but honestly I would be perfectly happy working that much every day of my life if I was always able to take an afternoon break to head over to RIB FEST!
It all started when we were having dinner with our friends, Chris and Lauren, on Saturday evening. At some point in the conversation, Lauren casually mentions that there was “some rib fest” going on over at Heinz Field, home of the Steelers. I couldn’t tell you what Lauren said after that, as I temporarily lost consciousness while envisioning myself with a face covered in barbecue sauce and a pile of rib bones in front of me. If there’s one thing that my father and my Texas roots imparted on me, it is a deep appreciation for meat cooked low and slow and slathered in barbecue sauce. As soon as I came back around, I asked Lauren to tell me everything she knew about this “rib fest” event, and we soon made a plan to attend on Labor Day afternoon. For the next 2 days, all I really thought about was ribs.
As the big event grew closer, I started getting really scared that I was going to be massively disappointed by Rib Fest. What if the food was terrible? What if it was just some run-of-the-mill carnival vendors masquerading as rib experts? What if there were only a few vendors to choose from? However, as we walked in to the stadium grounds, all of those fears were immediately quelled. What we saw were about a dozen rib vendors from all over the country with larger-than-life displays showcasing their trophies and awards from all of the competitions they had participated in and won. And all of them were grilling off ribs 8 racks at a time. It was truly a thing of beauty.
You can see all of the different ribs that we tried above – from 8 vendors in all, with my personal favorites being from a group out of North Carolina. It was also a special treat to get to eat some sausage from a group out of Fort Worth, Texas. However, the wait for those particular ribs and sausage was well over the 90 minute mark – the only bad thing about Rib Fest. The lines were definitely a huge drag, but we made the best of it and would usually split into groups of two and conquer two lines at a time, buying enough for everyone to try. Prices were pretty reasonable – about $12 for a half rack. All of the ribs we tried we delicious and surprisingly different from each other. Add some baked beans, potato salad, corn bread, and cheese fries and we were all in hog heaven!
We had an absolutely fantastic time at Rib Fest. I’ve always wanted to go to some sort of cookoff like this – be it chili, pies, or barbecue. You better believe that this won’t be our last!