What a beautiful weekend for a street festival! The weather could not have been better if we dreamt it. Friday was sunny but not too hot, Saturday was overcast and cool enough that you could warm up with a hot slab or tangy BBQ ribs, and Sunday was a perfect cool with an ample amount of sun. Not exactly what you’d expect in June, but after the winter we had, we’ll gladly take it.
I got to check out a fair amount during my 2 days at Ribfest. I got there right before opening on Friday, so I got to see some of the work that goes into setting up all the booths and getting the food going. As soon as I got off the Brown Line at Irving Park my nostrils perked up at the delicious aroma of all that barbecued meat. I could hardly keep my mouth from drooling all over the perfectly cooked pork surrounding me.
Just as important as the ribs was the music provided by some of Chicago’s best local bands. The two I decided to check out were Terriers and Fort Frances. Terriers had the honor of kicking off the fest as the very first band to play. They did a great job, mixing some of the hits off their last album Unrequited Admiration Society, with some newer songs they’ve been working on for a new album.
Fort Frances played Saturday just as evening was rolling in, and they put on maybe the best performance I’ve seen by them in a long time (This was maybe my 8th time seeing them). Even missing their normal drummer they were able to hit every note from the songs we know and cranked it up a notch on some new tunes that will be on their next full-length. Many were drinking and singing along, a bunch of kids were dancing in front of the stage-a really fun time was had by all. Then we ate ribs.
One of my favorite things about Ribfest this year was Ribmania V, the rib-eating contest that brings in some of the greatest competitive eaters in the world. For me, it wasn’t about who won or lost (this year Miki Sudo defended her crown), but the emcee introducing the contest. This guy was like Michael Buffer on a week-long sugar binge. He had me cracking up from beginning to end with his WWE-like monologue about the excitement of competitive eating.
Ribfest has proven yet again that it is one of the true highlights of the summer festival season in Chicago. Just a day after it ended I’m already looking forward to next year.