Barbecue bonanza
by Ann Hutton
August 13, 2009 01:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Now that the rain has abated somewhat and it finally feels like summer, thoughts turn to cooking and eating outdoors. It's time to take the cover off the grill and open your cookbooks. And for some spicy inspiration, check out the Hudson Valley RibFest, a veritable barbecue extravaganza and food orgy to be held at the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz on August 14,15 and 16.

Organized by the Highland Rotary Club, the three-day-long event is both a food festival and a sanctioned barbecue contest where winners can advance to the national finals in Kansas City. That means BBQ chefs from all over the state will be on hand to outdo each other, pitting their skills against the competition to win bragging rights and a portion of the $10,000 in prize money.

The Hudson Valley RibFest is part of the Empire State BBQ Championship challenge, the seven regional barbecue events in New York State that are working together to promote great barbecue in New York. Two major contests will be mounted this year at the RibFest. The New England Barbecue Society grilling contest will be held on Saturday, August 15. On Sunday, August 16, the Kansas City Barbecue Society competition will happen, concluding with a "Chef's Choice: Apples" entry. As the Hudson Valley's premier agricultural product is apples, our teams will have a chance to show their stuff in this category. The First Place winner will receive a trophy and $200 in prize money.

More than 60 teams are competing for cash prizes and the title of "Grand Champion" of the Hudson Valley RibFest. And while the competition mounts, good food will be celebrated all around, with independent vendors offering eats and beverages.

The Highland Rotary Club, supported by an army of more than 350 volunteers from local groups, has lined up activities and family entertainment for the thousands of visitors who come to the three-day shindig, like outstanding cooking demonstrations and a children's area with inflatable bouncing houses, climbing wall and kids' country games. For your listening and dancing pleasure, live bands are scheduled each day: Chain Gang will play on Friday evening, the Big Smoothies on Saturday afternoon, Hot Rod on Saturday night and the Greyhounds on Sunday afternoon.

The Highland Rotary Club donates its profits to local, national and international worthy causes, and the proceeds from the Hudson Valley RibFest will be no exception. Your attendance at this blow-out barbecue event will help enable the Highland Rotary Club to fund and support many local and diverse causes, such as "The Highland Rotary Saves Hearts" Automatic Defibrillator (AED) Project, a local initiative placing 19 AEDs in the community; assisting with the needs of the local food pantry; establishing a first-class rail trail linear park and providing $20,000 towards the cost of a parking area at the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Depot; and its newest international project: to provide water filters in a remote area of El Salvador where the drinking water is terribly polluted. Where else can you overindulge your passion for (maybe even your addiction to) mouthwatering, finger-licking-good barbecued ribs, chicken, beef brisket, burgers and delectable specialties, prepared and consumed in a backyard atmosphere, and not feel guilty about it?

The Fairgrounds gates are open on Friday, August 14 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., on Saturday, August 15 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday, August 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, with children 12 and under free. Advance tickets are available at all area Hannaford Supermarkets (main event sponsor) for $4. Parking is free. For more information, visit For additional details about the statewide competition, visit

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