The Rotary Club of Nashua West will celebrate 10 years of raising money for local charities through barbecued brisket, chicken and ribs at the Rock’n Ribfest on Friday, June 15, through Sunday, June 17.
“It’s not just a barbecue. It’s a backyard barbecue party,” said Rick Herrick, president of the Rotary Club of Nashua West, of the annual event, held at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Merrimack.
Nine vendors, including many Ribfest regulars, some from as far away as Indiana and Pennsylvania, will be firing up their grills and smokers at this year’s event, cooking not only ribs but briskets, chicken, hot dogs and shrimp.
“It’s called Ribfest, but we’ve got just about anything for anybody,” Herrick said. More than 25 paper towel and wet nap stations will be set up in the vicinity of the dining tents and vendors, he added.
An estimated 40 amateur barbecuers will also be at the fest, vying for the top spot in the state’s official barbecue championship. The entrants will put their best ribs and briskets forward in hopes of moving on to the Jack Daniels Invitational World Championship Barbecue Contest. Monetary prizes will be awarded to the top amateur barbecuers at the Ribfest.
The ribs are not the only part of the event that has drawn in crowds of 30,000 and more to the weekend-long festival, Herrick said. People go for the live music, the activities for children and the family-friendly atmosphere.
“Mom and dad can enjoy ribs, hamburgers and hot dogs with the kids, then enjoy an adult beverage while the kids are enjoying soft drinks and playing all day long in the kids’ area,” Herrick said. A designated play area for children will be sectioned off at the event, which kids may enjoy all day for a small fee.
Non-musical entertainment for the Rock’n Ribfest includes hot air balloon rides, flyovers by stunt planes and Sunday’s whoopie pie eating contest. For a small entry fee, participants will face off against radio and TV personalities, and likely a state senator or congressman or two, and attempt to be the first to finish a 9-inch double-layered whoopie pie. So far, in the three years the contest has been held, “The fastest was just under a minute,” Herrick said. “It was pretty amazing.”
“I think that anybody who has ever had a barbecued rib either loves them or hates them — I think most people love them,” Herrick said. “You get the nice succulent flavor of a barbecue, combined with the various sauces and rubs that the professional vendors put on the ribs.” Some guests will even opt to take some ribs home with them after the event, he said.
New to the Ribfest is a 5-mile road race hosted by Millennium Running on Sunday, June 17, at 9 a.m. The “Squeelz” Piglet Run, a half-mile race for children, will kick off at 8:30 a.m. Both races will begin in the brewery parking lot.
Herrick is most looking forward to the smiles on the faces of those who will benefit from the proceeds of the event. Last year’s Ribfest raised more than $100,000 for local charities, nonprofits and scholarship funds.
The Ribfest, Herrick said, has become somewhat of a destination event.
“It’s our 10th anniversary, so many more people know about it,” he said. “I was at a [house] closing in Concord and mentioned the Ribfest, and the person said, ‘We go to that every year. It’s so much fun!’”