Battle at the BBQ

(Photo by Paul Joseph)

The 13th annual Hudson Valley RibFest will be held at the Ulster County Fairgrounds Friday through Sunday, August 18-20. The event goes on rain or shine and parking is free. Single-day general admission costs $7 for adults and is free for kids under age 12. Tickets are available at the gate or in advance online. The price of admission includes entry to the festival, live music, most of the additional entertainment, access to the contest area and same-day re-entry.

General admission times are Friday evening, August 18 from 5-10 p.m., Saturday, August 19 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, August 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The main stage on the festival grounds will feature live music. Friday evening performers will be Kayla Rae at 6:30 p.m. and the Black Dirt Bandits at 8 p.m. Saturday’s live music will be a mix of blues, country and classic rock with the Roadhouse Roosters at 11:30 a.m., Nikki Briar at 2 p.m., BedRock at 4:30 p.m. and Americana Oak Bank at 7:30 p.m. Sunday it’s all about country music, with Liv Waters at 11:30 a.m. and Country Fresh at 2:30 p.m.

The food festival part of the event will offer six barbecue rib vendors: Big Kev’s BBQ, Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ, Handsome Devil, LLC, Jack McDavid’s Down Home Diner, SmokeShack BBQ and Pigtails BBQ Company. Each will have half and full racks of ribs available for purchase along with other barbecued meats and side dishes. They often sell bottles of their sauces and BBQ rubs, too. Visitors can try a few variations and cast a vote for the “people’s choice.”


Additional vendors will offer classic fair food: roasted corn, fried dough, fried pickles, lemonade, Italian ices, soft pretzels, kettle corn, hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, jerk chicken and shrimp, apple cider doughnuts and pies, beer and milkshakes. A bull-riding apparatus will be located (logically) near the beer tent.

The chef demo tent will host continuous cooking demonstrations and tastings from opening time until 7 p.m. on Saturday and all day Sunday. Presentations last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Attendees learn how to cook specific recipes and sample locally produced spirits, wine and beer.

RibFest includes a barbecue competition. Sixty teams of competitors set up their grills in a “village” of sorts at the back of the fairgrounds, behind where the main action for visitors takes place. RibFest is affiliated with the Empire State BBQ Championship Challenge, a statewide series of competitive events intended to promote the love of barbecue. Winners earn cash prizes and bragging rights.

On Saturday afternoon, The New England Barbecue Society will sponsor a grilling contest. Prizes will be won in four categories, including a grilled apple dessert. Sunday’s competition, sponsored by the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS), will be all about the barbecued meats. Winning contestants will move on to the next level and compete in the Kansas City Nationals.

Funds raised through Hudson Valley RibFest over the past 12 years have allowed the Highland Rotary Club to provide more than $200,000 in services both locally and internationally. Their local contributions include helping out food pantries, purchasing defibrillators, granting scholarships and providing rent and heat assistance along with school supplies and warm coats for families in need.

Hudson Valley Ribfest, Friday, August 18, 5-10 p.m., Saturday, August 19, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday, August 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., $7/kids under 12 free, Ulster County Fairgrounds, 249 Libertyville Road, New Paltz; (845) 844-RIBFEST,