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Each year, the Greater Alliance Carnation Festival Rib Fest serves as an opportunity for the community to come together to eat good food, socialize and listen to local artists perform.
Many years ago, event Chairperson Gary Barnes opted to change the Rib Burn-Off into the Rib Fest and eliminate the competition that was associated with it. He recognized that the only vendor the competition benefited was the winner, who mostly only left the festival with bragging rights.
"Everybody has a good rack of ribs," Barnes explained, saying that judging was too difficult.
Now, the event is going just as strongly as before, even without the competition.
"They're there for the atmosphere," Barnes explained of the thousands of people who gather in the Carnation City Mall parking lot during the Rib Fest.
This year, six rib vendors are expected to serve up their ribs at the Rib Fest. There is a mixture of local vendors and national chains. Old Carolina Barbecue Co., Two Fat Guys Bar-B-Q, Pig Tails Barbecue, Smokehouse Barbecue, Rubbin' Butts and Smokehouse Grille will be on hand during the Rib Fest.
For the local vendors, the Rib Fest provides an avenue for them to get their names out there and let people in the community sample their ribs. Barnes also considers having national chains at the Rib Fest a good opportunity to allow locals to try out some more well-known rib companies.
Festivalgoes can enjoy more than ribs during the three-night Rib Fest. Many other food vendors will be on hand to sell a variety of treats, such as gyros, pizza, apple dumplings and fries.
As always, musicians will come to the mall parking lot to entertain guests.
Conestoga, a country rock band, will perform from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Thursday night. The Hern Brothers Band, which performs rock 'n' roll music, will play from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Friday. Ricco, a local disc jockey with an oldies show, will be on stage from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Phil-n-the-Blanks, an oldies band, will follow Ricco Saturday evening from 8 to 11 p.m.
Barnes considers the Rib Fest to be a special event for the community to come together, noting that there are very few events in Alliance throughout the year where people can enjoy an outdoor venue.
"It's one of the premier events where people can sit down and see old classmates and old friends they may not have seen in a year," Barnes said.
The Rib Fest is a good event for everyone. Even children can enjoy the event with inflatables, face painting and games.
During the Rib Fest, a new event, chalking, will allow local artists to showcase their abilities with sidewalk chalk. The Business Expo will also enter its second year during the Rib Fest.
The Rib Fest will be open from 4 to 11 p.m. Thursday and noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.