Ribs on the River draws local, national rib vendors to Downtown riverfrontWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Vendors are bringing barbequed ribs to Toledo next weekend for the Ribs on The River event from as far away as Florida, Minnesota and Virginia, in addition to many local restaurants.
CitiFest welcomes them to the Second Annual Columbia Gas Ribs on the River August 3-5 in Downtown Toledo, presented by KeyBank and benefiting the American Red Cross.
“We get a good mix of local and national participants,” said Andy Heise, general manager of Famous Dave’s Barbeque on Monroe Street in Toledo. “We’re expecting a bigger crowd this year due to the larger number of vendors.”
Even though Famous Dave’s is part of a 150-unit national chain, “we think of it as a local restaurant,” Heise said. The restaurant gets involved in many local charity events and festivals to support the community, he added.
“We do it for several reasons — to have fun, for the great exposure, to get more people to try our food and come to the restaurant, the competition, and to support the community,” Heise said. “It’s worth the investment for us.”
Famous Dave’s is just one of the many Toledo area barbeque restaurants participating in Ribs on the River. Others include Black Kettle Bar-B-Que, Mr. Beefy’s/Fat Freddy’s Sticky Q, Po Mo’s, Shorty’s Bar-B-Que, Tom’s BBQ, and We Are Ribs.
Two other Ohio restaurants are participating this year with Desperado’s BBQ & Ribs coming from Hinkley and Eli’s Famous BBQ from Warren. Big Boned BBQ is coming from Plymouth, Minn.; Johnson’s BBQ from Norfolk, Va. with Blazin’ Bronco BBQ and Porky N Beans, both coming from Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Black Kettle Barbeque, a new catering business in Toledo, is participating for the first time. Owner Johnnie Harris will serve barbequed chicken, beef ribs, Cajun sausage and several side dishes at the event.
They will also offer strawberry cake and “Sock It to Me” cake with a center of nuts and cinnamon spice, both made by Mamma Munch.
Harris is participating to let people know there are more than corporate chains and local restaurants in the competition. He doesn’t have a place for people to visit yet but said he is in the process of leasing a building to open a place of his own.
“If we win it and open soon in Toledo that would be great,” Harris said.
Harris is a graduate of Assets Toledo, a program for training entrepreneurs and helping small businesses succeed through networking. A fellow graduate of the program, Frank Ozanski of Clear Images Promotional Products in Toledo, is sponsoring Harris in the event.
“I believe in giving back to Assets grads so I fronted the money for Johnnie to enter Ribs on the River,” said Ozanski. “It’s great exposure for him, and if he does well, then I’ll get my investment back.”
“It’s all in the networking thing, using people in the network and helping each other out,” Harris said.
Tom’s BBQ & Grille on Front Street in East Toledo makes the investment to support the Ribs on the River event. They have participated in the local rib competitions since 1990, according to owner Tom Bolander.
“It’s costly to set everything up at those events, but we want people to try our ribs and generate revenue for our business while supporting the community,” Bolander said.
Mr. Beefy’s American Roadhouse on Navarre Avenue in East Toledo and Shorty’s Bar-B-Que on Monroe Street in Sylvania Township will participate in their second Ribs on the River competition this year.
The Glass Pig Award is chosen by a group of area judges and the People’s Choice Award is chosen by event attendees. Both will be awarded at 5 p.m. Sunday.
In addition to the barbequed ribs competition, other vendors will be selling tasty festival food such as corn on the cob, onion rings, ice cream and kettle korn.
The CitiFest event includes a diverse variety of musical talent and a new family area. Owens Corning will present Piggy’s Playland with games, rides, miniature golf and much more for family fun from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 4 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 5.
The Ribs on the River event, at Promenade Park on the riverfront, is open Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Attendees can take their ribs aboard the Sandpiper for a relaxing cruise down the Maumee River to see the new Veteran’s Glass City Bridge. The 45-minute ride will cost $5 per person with kids under five riding for free throughout the entire weekend.
The Ribs on the River will benefit the American Red Cross. The local agency will provide volunteers to work at the event for a fee and percentage of the revenues, according to Julie Champa of CitiFest, Inc. that sponsors the annual event.
The 2007 edition of Ribs on the River is presented by Columbia Gas and KeyBank, along with Budweiser, the City of Toledo, Communica, Owens Corning, Sam’s, Toledo Riverfront Hotel, Toledo Free Press and the Toledo Mud Hens.