Inaugural Ribfest pits best in barbecue

Comments Comments Print Print
Lynn Greene | July 15, 2016

If you think summer food should be all about cooking on the grill, developing a nice char and cultivating a  smoky aroma that makes a person follow their nose straight to a pile of ribs, you are not alone. As a matter of fact, there will be an entire fairgrounds filled with people who pretty much think the same thing.

Elkhorn is hosting its inaugural Ribfest, a national rib cooking competition that is drawing contestants from near and far. Locally, LD's BBQ in East Troy and BBQ King Smokehouse in Woodstock, Illinois, will compete in the professional category.

If you've been to LD's (and if you haven't, what's wrong with you?) you know that there is smoke in the air from early in the morning to late in the evening — proof positive that the meat is slowly smoked over hard wood. Seasoned chefs will tell you that is the secret to getting the pork tender and juicy.

Next closest to participate in Ribfest is BBQ King Smokehouse, owned by Jason Szmurlo. It's a small place but big in taste. The meat always is tender, perfectly smoky and served with three different sauces. Szmurlo and his brother Kyle started out by competing in the Kansas City Barbeque Society. They did well  and started their own place. The BBQ King just took first place in the “Best Ribs Juried by Our Celebrity Judges” category at Chicago's Ribfest in June.

Can they repeat their first place win? Pack your hunger pains and head over to Ribfest to find out.

Other things you should know:

• The event and the spectacle of watching amateurs and pros compete is free.

• You can purchase food; ribs, brisket, pulled pork and all the side dishes that go with it separately.

• Beer will be available.

• Enjoy live music all day: Chasin' Mason on Friday, The Toys on Saturday and The Amazing Farm Boys on Sunday.

• Artisan market.

More to chew on:

Go whole hog for the Farm Fresh Atlas of Southeastern Wisconsin at a summer pig roast and fundraiser from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at Brightonwoods Orchard, 1072 288th Ave., Burlington. Enjoy delicious food, music and activities for the whole family.

Chefs from La Merenda, Engine Company No. 3, Braise, MATC's Culinary Arts Program and others will be preparing pork roasted  above and underground as well as dishes made from locally available ingredients. AeppelTreow Winery and Distillery's tasting room is just a few steps away and will offer ciders, brandy and whiskey from locally grown heirloom fruits and crops.

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to

The Farm Fresh Atlas of Southeastern Wisconsin is a local food guide for the area, featuring  farms and businesses that:

•Are family or cooperatively owned

• Operate in a way that protects and sustains the region's land and water resources

• Provide safe and fair working conditions

• Produce, use or sell Wisconsin farm products

It's available at a variety of locations in southeastern Wisconsin, including libraries, businesses, convention and visitor bureaus and farmers markets.

Comments Comments Print Print