Attention, backyard grillers! The village is now accepting applications for its BBQ contest at the sixth annual Forest Park Ribfest, which is just over a month away.
The contest is for amateur chefs only, and those interested in signing up should visit the village’s website and click on the smiling pig link to do so. Weekend-warrior chefs who are mulling entering the competition might want to jump into the action now, before spots fills up.
“We have had to turn people away,” said Mayor Anthony Calderone, about past demand for spots in the competition.
According to the mayor, there are only 22 spots. “We basically work on a first-come, first-served basis,” said Calderone, describing how the village handles applicants.
As for the contest, competitors need to be 18 and can only serve up pork ribs (either spare or baby back). That way the judges are sampling the same type of meat, Calderone explained.
The judges will be blindfolded while trying contestants’ fare and first-, second- and third-place monetary awards will be given out. The top prize is $750, second place is $500, and third is $300. The entry fee is $150.
Calderone said most of the judges have “BBQ certification” with which to judge the “ribbers.” Ribfest is a highly anticipated festival put on by the village annually, and this year it will be held on Sept. 10, at The Grove, 7824 Madison St.
“The community overwhelmingly looks forward to Ribfest each year, and they show that by their attendance,” Calderone said.
In addition to the BBQ competition and rib stands, there will also be other concession booths, and live musical performances throughout the day.
“The entertainment is always great; it’s a great time for family fun,” the mayor said.
While few dispute Ribfest’s pleasures, some local pols have questioned the cost of entertainment and said the terms in one contract are too favorable to performers.
At a recent village board meeting, Commissioner Chris Harris prodded Mayor Calderone and Community Center Director Karen Dylewski (who negotiates the contracts) to explain why the village agreed to pay performers $7,800 even if it rains.
Dylewski said the contract was standard and noted that last year, when it rained heavily, the performers still played.
“I was out there in my rain suit,” Calderone quipped, at the meeting.
“We are not protected against anything, including simple ‘inclement weather,’ so we pay in full if the show gets rained out,” Harris wrote in an email. “I would ask the other commissioners who voted against it why they think it’s a good idea that we don’t protect ourselves and, in turn, throw away money for no reason when we could easily have put an addendum in fixing that wording,” he added.
This year, the village booked Stereola, “a cover band performing the sounds of Cheap Trick, Pretenders, Sheryl Crowe, Blondie, Pink and many more,” and the groups Mr. Big Stuff, The Redstones, and 7th Heaven, all included in the aforementioned contract.
During this spring’s election campaign, former commissioner and mayoral candidate Marty Tellalian, and his campaign manager, Bill Gerst, sparked a Web debate after questioning how much was spent on booking bands. Gerst then claimed in a Web comment, responding to a Forest Park Review article, that last year’s Ribfest was not financially successful. The village provided records disproving that claim.
Last week, Calderone said that finances “are not the major thrust” of the event.
“It’s another tool in our tool box to make Forest Park a great community,” he added.