CHARLESTON, W.Va. — You can’t beat the smells that are coming from Kanawha Boulevard this weekend in Charleston. If you’re in the area however, you might as well taste what’s creating that smell too.
RibFest is back and better than ever. Over a dozen food and drink vendors are lined up on the Boulevard with thousands of people expected to fill the streets and Haddad Riverfront Park for the event.
The four-day RibFest runs every day until Sunday at 11 p.m. RibFest also includes live music every night at Haddad, amusement rides in the Kids Zone, and a Beer Garden for those 21 and older.
Six national rib vendors are in Charleston this year for RibFest: Carolina Rib King, Cowboys BBQ, Desperado BBQ, Gullah Q BBQ, Johnson’s BBQ, and Off The Bone BBQ.
For Off the Bone BBQ, a group from Alabama, they love traveling the country for events like RibFest, but they also take great pride in the awards they’ve won in recent years. Pete Marshall said in a 202 competition here in Charleston, they won “Best Ribs.”
“We’re from Alabama so we win championships,” Marshall said while giving a nod to Alabama football coach and West Virginia native Nick Saban. “We got to show homage to our great coach.”
It’s a lot of work for Marshall, the group from Off The Bone, and the many other barbeque stands that are in town. A lot of them hit every part of the country to offer people their signature meats and sides.
“22 weekends out of the year we’re busy,” Miller said. “We’ve been to Charleston 10 years now and it’s a lot of work but that’s what makes us great. It’s great food here.”
Desperado is another BBQ joint that enjoys the return to Charleston. Donald Baughs said the people of the capital city have been good to them.
“We’ve been doing this in Charleston for the past five or six years and we really enjoy it,” said Baughs. “The response has always been a warm and welcoming one.”
Desperado is based out of Hinckley, Ohio. They too do a lot of traveling, including as far as Fargo, North Dakota. Baughes said they have also made stops this year in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
Baughs said this event is a good opportunity for them to show the residents of the city just how good their food is, but to also give back. Baughs said they try to help out homeless shelters in every city and town they go to. Sometimes they’ll even hire individuals to join them on their cross-country trip of making good barbeque.
“It’s a lot of work but it’s very rewarding,” Baughs said.
There’s a wing eating contest scheduled for Sunday, September 17. One of the contestants includes former WVU quarterback Major Harris.
To see the full RibFest 2023 schedule, including the musical acts at Haddad Riverfront Park, go to wvribfest.com.