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2016 Best Ribs in Kalamazoo Tent & Competition

2016 Best Ribs in Kalamazoo Tent and Competition at the Kalamazoo Ribfest

Presented by Weller Auto Parts

Thursday, August 4

6-8 pm for public sampling and voting (ticket required)

NEW THIS YEAR! “Best Ribs in Kalamazoo” tent on Thursday night featuring Kalamazoo’s best local rib vendors. Purchase the “Best Ribs in Kalamazoo” ticket for Thursday night and you’ll have admission to the festival as well as entry to the special tent where you’ll receive sampling tickets to try from all the local rib vendors featured there. Tickets are just $25 and include 10 sampling tickets for the local rib vendors, and you can then submit your vote for your favorite to win “Best Ribs in Kalamazoo”.

Buy your ticket now to enjoy the Best Ribs in Kalamazoo competition!

Vendors Featured in the 2016 Best Ribs in Kalamazoo Competition:

Bomba’s BBQ
Smoked Down BBQ
Lazy Man Bar-B-Que
Bucky’s Cafe
Arcadia Brewing Company
Ol’ Moose BBQ
Harris and Harris Catering
J’Harvey’s BBQ
Salt-N-Pepper Catering
Virgil’s BBQ


Information for Vendors:

The Best Ribs in Kalamazoo is exclusively for BBQ restaurants and caterers located in the local Kalamazoo area. While the competition has taken place every year, we are looking to a new format this year to allow for more exposure for local rib vendors.

On Thursday night of Ribfest (August 4), we will have a special “Best Ribs in Kalamazoo” tent where festival attendees can purchase a ticket to gain access to the tent and sample from the local rib vendors. This is the perfect opportunity for local Kalamazoo rib vendors to showcase their specialty BBQ, get in front of a new audience for future business, and gain notoriety with Kalamazoo’s premier rib event.

While attendees go around and sample from each vendor, they’ll be able to submit their vote for “People’s Choice” in helping to determine the “Best Ribs in Kalamazoo” winner. There will also be a panel of judges comprised of media partners, chefs, and sponsors who will do a blind taste test from the rib vendors, and will rate the entries based on meat tenderness, texture, flavors and the sauce richness with a weighted judging scale.

The winner of the “Best Ribs in Kalamazoo” competition and runner-up will be awarded with a trophy and cash prizes courtesy of our sponsor, Weller Auto Parts. The winner gains the right to secure a three-day rib vending booth space at a discounted rate in the 2017 Ribfest, as available booth space is very limited each year.

Proceeds from the Kalamazoo Ribfest go to benefit the Arc Community Advocates who work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to empower them to live a life that is fully included in the community, and advocate on their behalf.

[UPDATE] Vendor spots for the competition are now full:

Thank you for your interest, but we have now received the maximum number of allowed entries for the competition. We hope you may be able to join us for next year’s event.



Thursday, August 4 from 5-8 pm

Official judging panel from 5-6 pm

Tent open to public from 6-8 pm for rib sampling

*Rib vendors must arrive by 4:30 pm for set up*


Cost for Vendors:     

Free, no booth fee to enter competition

BBQ Vendor provides:

  • 250 BBQ rib samples (1-2 bones per sample) *cooking done off site and brought to event*
  • Any chafing dishes and all other necessary equipment needed for event-day (sternos, serving tools & utensils, etc.)

Event provides:                               

  • (1) 8 ft. table underneath large tent
  • Sampling plates for all attendees
  • Business name and link to website listed on the Kalamazoo Ribfest website
  • Business name listed in Kalamazoo Ribfest brochures distributed during event
  • Official judging panel with scoring sheets
  • All ballot forms for attendees to vote for People’s Choice


  • Limited to restaurants and catering businesses in the local Kalamazoo area
  • Limited to the first 10 entries received


  • Opportunity to gain marketing exposure for your BBQ catering/restaurant
  • Chance to win cash prizes and awards including a discounted space at the 2017 Ribfest, as booth space is extremely limited
  • Winners will be announced on the radio and at Ribfest following the competition.
  • Event proceeds support our charity partner, Arc Community Advocates


Contact or call 269-978-2167


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