The First Rule of Ribfest: Have Ribs


Few things are more America than a ribfest. Nothing is more 'Merica than having one in Meridian. And the Northwest Ribfest Cooking Competition delivered in spades on Saturday. It had multiple vendors, no shade, an overly bureaucratic token system of payment and a lineup of genuinely adequate rock bands on an outdoor stage, all of it bathed in the smell sizzling dead pig and molasses. Meridian, FUCK, YEAH!

Only one problem: There weren't any ribs.

Around half the food vendors were either not barbecue joints or were barbecuing something else altogether, and the barbecue stands were nearly all sold out by late afternoon on opening day.

There is nothing wrong with Thai satay skewers or Indonesian dumplings or street tacos, but when it is called a ribfest, guess what everyone goes there for? Here is a hint: It is not pizza. That is why anyone who actually found ribs was questioned as to where they came from, myself included.

I found them at the Texas Roadhouse stand, presumably because its sit-down restaurant was only a block away from the festival's location at Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park. The stand advertised the them as "fall off the bone ribs," and they were not kidding. Tender and succulent pieces of meat peeled away with ease, melting in the mouth as just as easily. Paired with a well-salted corn cob and several wedges of grilled pineapple, it was exactly the sort of meal one heads to a ribfest for.

The Northwest Ribfest Cooking Competition runs through 7 p.m. today. But if you want actual ribs, get there early.