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Plan your visit to Fort Wayne's Ribfest

Yes, it can be hard to write about Ribfest. Until technology speeds up and we can provide you with smell-o-vision, the written word hardly does the story of Ribfest justice.

But, luckily, you have the chance to stop out to Ribfest Friday through Sunday to get a whiff and a taste of your own.

On Thursday, Two News-Sentinel reporters stopped to visit each barbecue team to meet the grill masters and to take a look at what's on the grill. Here is what they found.


Photos by Jaclyn Goldsborough and Matthew Glowicki of The News-Sentinel.

"We sell ribs with meat that falls right off the bone. Customers eat our barbecue, then go eat others and come back and tell us the best barbecue is Big Boned,” said Mark Sams of Big Boned BBQ.
“After we throw on some rub that the boss made, we put the meat in the smoker for at least 10 hours with some hickory wood. The meat gets another hit of the dry rub then it goes onto the grill with a light glaze and it’s ready," said Mark Sams of Big Boned BBQ.
Solomon Williams, owner of Carolina Rib King from South Carolina, brought along a mustard-based sauce this year to try on his wide variety of pork and chicken. “Everything's my specialty,” Williams said. “I give love with all of it.”
Solomon Williams, owner of Carolina Rib King from South Carolina, takes great pride in his state. It's what makes his barbecue different, he said.
Cowboys BBQ and Rib Company travels from Fort Worth, Texas, to compete in Fort Wayne's Ribfest at Headwater Park.
“I use the best meat you can buy. Then I slather Cowboys’ rub and glaze on the meat and throw it on the fire. When you describe a Texas barbecue, just think about love. That’s what we’re serving up here, a little bit of love and heat,” said Dallas Green, owner of Cowboys BBQ and Rib Company.
Desperados offers three different and distinct sauces, all cooked with the same traditional Memphis style of barbecue with a rich red sauce.
Donna Rice, owner of Desperados, said with three different distinct sauces, each customer can make their barbecue the way they like it and many people like to mix and match.
If you hear the ringing of the cowbell, you might just be near the Jack on the Bone tent, which has been dishing out barbecue favorites with a dash of Tennessee's Jack Daniels since the fest first started 16 years ago.
Grilled mushrooms covered in dry rub and barbecue sauce sizzle on the grill at Jack on the Bone, the place known for its incorporation of Jack Daniels whiskey into its sauce.
In its fourth year at Ribfest, the mostly family-run operation is back again to serve up its specialty pulled pork, cooked with lots of TLC, said Jim McCullough of Low and Slow.
Jim McCullough (left) of Low and Slow grills alongside Dave Hart. Without revealing all that goes into the special sauce, McCullough said apples are key to the taste of the meat, as applewood is used in the smoking process.
Owners of Texas Pit Barbecue Ron and Valerie Conaway spend the entire summer on the road competing from New York to North Carolina.
Heavily sauced, employee Tonya Bayham said Texas Pit Barbecue serves up a St. Louis style barbecue rib, which means it’s heavily sauced, a little sweet and very sticky.
With a restaurant half an hour outside Fort Wayne in Garrett, Tim Johnson, owner of Timmy’s Pizza & BBQ, said after 12 years, he has nearly perfected his rub and sauce.
Johnson’s sauce is what he calls a Louisiana-style barbecue with a vinegar base. He also has the second largest commercial smoker in the United States.
Wrigley Field has the quintessential bar food and Grabill Inn has the traditional family-style food, this booth at Ribfest offered a unique menu featuring many options in addition to barbecue.
Daniel White, owner of Wrigley Field Bar and Grill said his rub and sauce are all homemade recipes created by his brother.