RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

Festival of Ribs.

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago.

One of the best foods in the world: ribs. My favorite “sport” in the world: competitive eating. Combine the two and you’ve got a deliciously messy afternoon in the city at the RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago.

Friday was opening day of this year’s Ribfest and the festival was tipped off with a professional ribs eating contest. By this time last year I had already seen four eating contests. This year, since my teeth problems took away a good chunk of my time and money, I had to cancel some of my previous plans, making this on my first of the year. I was anxious to get my season rolling!

My friend Alyssa joined me and we got to Ribfest just after opening, grabbed some Bacardi lemonade and waited for the contest to get underway. Alyssa had never been to an eating contest before and was curious about it, but I don’t think she had any clue what she was getting herself into.

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

Six o’clock rolled around and tin trays of barbecued slabs of ribs were placed across the table. The RibMania trophy was placed front and center. And each of the contestants were announced, from fellow fans to Ribfest junkies. There was the number 26th ranked Ben Taylor. The number 8 ranked Erik “The Red” Denmark. Chicago North sider and number 10 ranked Tim “Gravy” Brown. And Chicago South sider and number 4 ranked Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti.


RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

While just a few miles away at Wrigley the Sox were facing the Cubs in the Crosstown Classic we had right there our own “crosstown chowdown.”

The eaters took their places ready to dig in to the bones of meat and the audience counted down for them to start chewing.

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

The contest was crazy. Each food and each eater has a different technique. For ribs, while some of the locals seemed to eat them bone by own as, well, most normal sane people would eat a slab of ribs, the pros seemed to combine pulling them from the bone with their teeth and stripping them with their hands and taking handfuls of the meat into their mouths.

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

The ribs eating cotnest was a crazy, messy contest, and while my eyes were definitely on Pat and Tim and Erik, you had to look at Ben who seemed to be living up to his moniker of “Wolf”

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

Trays and trays of ribs went down. And the eight minute clock ticked away as each eater tried to keep up the momentum and get more and more in their mouths.

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

Seconds shy of eight minutes, we counted down, and everyone stuffed that last bits of rib meat in. And then we waited while trays were weighed.

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

And then the results were announced…

In third place : Erik “The Red’ Denmark

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

In second place, in a bit of an upset, so much so that it even seemed to surprise him: Ben “The Wolf” Taylor

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

In first place: Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti (making it two wins for the South side that day thank you very much White Sox).

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

Oh, and I got ribsauce on my brand new shoes. 🙁 I should probably know better than to wear new shoes in the splash zone of a ribs eating contest…

RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago

After the contest Alyssa and I stuck around Ribfest for a bit. We watched some Mucca Pazza (an amazing local “circus-punk marching band”).


 Mucca Pazza at Ribfest Chicago

And we shared some ribs (from PitchFork and Browntrout) which were all delicious.

Eating Ribs at Ribfest Chicago

Eating Ribs at Ribfest Chicago

Then we headed out to Black Rock to meet back up with everyone else…or, at least, so we thought… Apparently in the mean time they decided to go somewhere else that was back near the contest where we started. So Alyssa and I said screw it, got some Woodchuck and watched rerun coverage of the morning’s Blackhawks parade.

Eventually some of Alyssa’s friends joined us and we shared some garlic parmesan fries that were ohmygod delicious but really left me feeling like I just ate an entire head or two of garlic.

At around 11 we were wiped out and decided to call it a night, so we headed out…only to see Pat and other Alyssa crossing the street. So I decided to head back in and hang out till the bar closed with them. Sage (who made his CE debut in the ribs contest) tried to convince me that I need to compete in one. And I plan to do so someday, but I just like watching too much. And they made me take a shot of something. Which really just meant that I nursed the shot for about 15 minutes. Because I am pathetically awesome like that. But I didn’t throw up in my purse thank you very much.

And, really, that makes for a successful night.

More photos from the RibMania Ribs Eating Contest at Ribfest Chicago:

 

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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