Ribfest

Leon Davis of LD’s BBQ in East Troy cuts a racks of ribs while competing at Ribfest at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn in 2017.

Grab your bibs and wet wipes, it’s almost time for the Elkhorn Ribfest.

Now in its sixth year, Ribfest started Wednesday and runs through Sunday, July 17 at the Walworth County Fairgrounds, 411 East Court St., Elkhorn.

It feature nearly 40 BBQ vendors, with 25 “backyard” chefs from all over Wisconsin.

Admission and parking are free.

Community members get to be taste-testers, trying ribs from the various vendors and selecting which are the most smokin’ and flavorful. After the votes are tallied, a people’s choice winner will be crowned and in the running for the grand champion award.

For the ultimate prize, vendors will be scrutinized by professional judges from the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Once the top chef is chosen, the winner of the grand champion award is selected based on a combination of both professional and public opinion.

Other vendors will sell non-BBQ options and beverages to help wash down the sauce-soaked ribs.

Ribfest hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to the local entrants, 14 professional vendors will offer up their BBQ for judging, with some participants will be coming from as far out west as Texas, and as far down south as the Carolinas.

A separate contest, the Community Division, will highlight the Wisconsin-based barbecue masters.

Ribfest organizer Larry Gaffey said the event has grown significantly over the years and has generated broad interest. From the modest turnout of around 25,000 people in 2016, Gaffey estimates that around 120,000 people attended last year’s festival.

“It takes a lot of courage to put your barbecue in competition with other people,” Gaffe said. “Your friends have told you your food’s good, and then all the sudden you find out maybe it’s not that great.”

Ribfest also boasts five days of music-filled entertainment, with 25 bands set to play on two stages. Carnival rides will also be running during the event.

“There’s so many activities for kids to do that the whole family can find something entertaining,” Gaffey said. “Our slogan is ‘Good food. Good music. Good times.’”

The fairgrounds will also be open to campers, as tents and RVs are allowed onsite. Sites available are limited and visitors should call 262-723-3228 to reserve a spot.

For more information visit https://www.wisconsinribfest.com/home.