Hudson Valley RibFest this weekend

RibFest (photo by Alan Carey)

There’s nothing better than a ribs mess at this time of year, when the rains come around to make up for earlier drought conditions, allowing for mudfests at rock festivals and cooler nights. After all, what better way to clean away some vinegar, ketchup, tomato-based or other sauces embedded on one’s fingers, all over one’s face or up and down the front of one’s clothes?

Is such messiness necessary at the annual Hudson Valley RibFest, organized by the Highland Rotary Club to take place this Saturday and Sunday, August 18 and 19, at the Ulster County Fairgrounds outside of New Paltz? Not for all; but with some good old rock and country music to get one in the mood, along with some fine thirst-quenching and mood-lightening beverages to get the ribs past one’s own ribcage, there’s no reason not to make a mess, as previously noted.

Actually two events in one – a food festival and a sanctioned barbecue contest where winners can advance to the national finals in Kansas City – the RibFest is one of the biggest of its kind in the Northeast, which could make us another Kansas City, Texas, North Carolina or Alabama in the overall pickings for this most American of culinary inventions. Things work like this: Barbecue teams by the dozens show up with their cookers, sauces and special cuts of meat to compete for culinary industry kudos, as well as some $8,500 in prize money.

The big prizing occurs on Sunday. Saturday is given over to apple recipes, and all throughout the event visitors get to try wares, listen to the music and soak up the ribby vibes.

There may be room for last-minute entries; the idea is, after all, about quality – and mess.

There will be activities for kids. And yes, it goes on rain or shine – and takes a day to get full enjoyment.

The 2012 Hudson Valley RibFest runs from noonish to 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 18 and from 11ish to 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 19. Admission costs $5 per person, and is free for those under 12 years old. Advance tickets are available for $4 at Hannaford’s. That entitles you to the grounds, music and cooking demonstrations. Plenty of summer food will also be available for sale, so bring your hunger. It all takes place at the Ulster County Fairgrounds, with free parking, located on Libertyville Road two miles southwest of New Paltz. Call (845) 306-4381 or visit for information.

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