2017 Best Ribs in Kalamazoo Competition at the Kalamazoo Ribfest

Thursday, August 3

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

The "Best Ribs in Kalamazoo" tent returns 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".

2017 Best Ribs in Kalamazoo Lineup 


Arcadia Ales

Kalamazoo, MI

Arcadia Ales is just as passionate about their BBQ as they are their Craft Beer. Enjoy!!


Barrett's Smokehouse

Portage, MI

Your Tender Meaty Baby Back Ribs, Smoked To Perfection With a Sweet Caramelized Sauce


Bomba's BBQ

Kalamazoo, MI

During the first year in business Bombas won first place at our annual Ribfest competiton as well as in 2015 and 2016 for People's Choice.


Brann's Steakhouse & Grille

Portage, MI

Fall -Off-The-Bone Ribs! Slow roasted for 12 hours for maximum tenderness, then smothered in Brann's famous Original BBQ sauce.

Kelvin and Company bbq

Kelvin and Company BBQ

Kalamazoo, MI

Downtown Kalamazoo's only BBQ Restaurant! Serving up urban BBQ and casual meats.

Lazy Man bbq

Lazy Man BBQ

Schoolcraft, MI

Slow Smoked BBQ, Served Fast


Ol' Moose BBQ

Kalamazoo, MI

OL' MOOSE BBQ loves to take from all regions, cuisines, and walks of life to make our "OL' MOOSE STYLE" BBQ.

smoked down

Smoked Down BBQ

Kalamazoo, MI

Smokin' it Down and Servin' it Up


Weller Barbecue

Kalamazoo, MI

Quality meats simply done we want you to taste the meat but still enjoy the Smokey flavor

Information for Vendors:

The Best Ribs in Kalamazoo is exclusively for licensed BBQ restaurants and caterers located in the local Kalamazoo area. On Thursday night of Ribfest (August 3), 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”. There will also be a panel of judges comprised of chefs, a Kansas City Barbeque Society judge, media partners 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 prize ($600 for first, $300 for second, and $100 for third). The winner gains the right to secure a three-day rib vending booth space at a discounted rate in the 2018 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.


Thursday, August 3 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:

  • 200 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 licensed restaurants and catering businesses operating in Kalamazoo county
  • Limited to the first 10 approved entries


  • Opportunity to gain marketing exposure for your BBQ catering/restaurant
  • Chance to win cash prizes and awards including a discounted space at the 2018 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

Questions? Contact jessica.devries@townsquaremedia.com or call 269-978-2167