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BBQ Ribfest: BBQ - It’s What's for Dinner, at this Summit City Staple

Touting a small town vibe in a metropolitan setting, Fort Wayne’s variety of attractions, excellent community events, and a network of lush community parks make it a go-to Indiana destination. The city offers a spectrum of fun attractions that will appeal to all travelers regardless of age, background, or interest. Families will love spending time at attractions like the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Science Central, and Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. Visitors in search of natural surroundings and outdoor activities are in the right place. From kayaking on Johnny’s Rope Swing Adventure Water Trail to hiking and nature viewing at the 716-acre Eagle Marsh Wetland Preserve, the city has your outdoor adventures covered.


BBQ Ribfest has been the leading BBQ event in Fort Wayne since its inception more than two decades ago, and it will take place June 14-17 at Headwaters Park in downtown. This year's edition features two local and seven national award-winning BBQ teams and favorite blues musicians from across the United States. Attendees can sample a variety of BBQ treats including ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, rib sandwiches, and more. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the event to serve up more than 25 tons of barbequed foods during its four-day run. This BBQ lover’s paradise is also the place to be for live blues music. More than 10 blues acts will perform including Corey Dennison Band, The Paul Deslauriers Band, and the local favorite The Sweetwater All-Stars. On Saturday (June 16) attendees can watch a spectacular fireworks show which lights up the downtown skyline. The event takes place under the massive canopy in Headwaters Park, so the event will happen rain or shine. interviewed RibFest Co-Director, Mark Chappuis, to learn more about this dream event for BBQ lovers.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

MC: This year’s Ribfest is the 21st annual event.


RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?

MC: We draw close to 40,000 Blues, Brews & BBQ lovers each year!


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

MC: It's a family-oriented event, and we find that crosses all demographic profiles. 


RAL: What makes this event unique?

MC: Martha Stewart Living magazine had it in its top 10 BBQ Fest List a few years back. We have a variety of BBQ foods prepared by nationally recognized cooking teams, many of which have been on the Food Channel and some who were on the show BBQ Pitmasters. This year we have nine local vendors and seven nationally competing teams cooking teams.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

MC: A typical day starts with some easy listening blues music, and in the afternoon people can visit our vendors who sell a variety of unique goods. We also have kids games, contests to win BBQ grills, and more.      


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

MC: We have great entertainment all weekend long featuring Maple Award winner and International Entertainer of the Year for 2017 and 2018 the Paul Deslauriers Band. We also have Nashville's own Stacy Mitchhart Band making an appearance, and Corey Dennison Band will treat listeners to their unique Chicago blues style.  


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?

MC: It’s a BBQ lover’s paradise! People can try brisket, ribs, pulled pork, rib sandwiches, bbq chicken, and so much more.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

MC: Fort Wayne offers a variety of excellent lodging options. Follow the link for more information.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

MC: It’s Fort Wayne’s biggest summer piggin’ out in the park party.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

MC: It does indeed. Our attendees patronize local businesses, visit attractions, and more.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

MC: It's the ultimate Blues Brews & BBQ event. So come on down and join the festivities under the giant canopy at the Headwaters Park pavilion.


For more information about the BBQ Ribfest, please visit the event website.