The food might have been tender, but the competition was stiff between the five local eateries at Main Street Beatrice’s Ribfest during Homestead Days Saturday night.
The most diehard Ribfest Fans likely stopped at Uncle Earnies BBQ and Catering, the only business that has participated since Ribfest started over a decade ago.
Michelle Morar said Uncle Earnies leaves the barbecue sauce off their popular baby back ribs because they “want to be able to taste the meat and the smoke.” Instead, they left the sauce to the buyers’ discretion.
A popular newcomer of the night was Filley Bar and Grill. Joel Bardell said their pulled pork nachos and pulled pork briskets were common orders of the night.
“Keep it simple and everybody will eat it. That’s what works,” Bardell said.
Bardell said Filley’s approach to meat cooking is having a “doctored” barbecue sauce put on during and after the ribs are smoked.
Beers n’ Bones was the only Beatrice restaurant at Ribfest this year. Lisa Meyers said their popular order was the brisket nachos; brisket, cheese, sour cream and jalapeños. For anyone wanting brisket, pork, ham and bacon at the same time, Beers n’ Bones had a meat platter as well.
Fans of a traditional cookout meal (meat, beans and potato salad) probably ate at Totally Smoked BBQ from Fairbury.
Carol Snider said despite being called Ribfest, people were favoring their brisket and smoked sausage.
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“Got a great crowd, great band, it’s a good time,” Snider said.
Arley’s from Steinauer took a completely different approach from the other Ribfest businesses. They had different kinds of hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as pork street tacos and super pork nachos.
Bobby Meints said their patrons were trying different things, with no popular contender for the night.
Some people tried food from different vendors. Others stuck to one after having a full afternoon of Homestead Days festivities. Many stayed to listen to the live music.
Judges awarded Filley Bar and Grill first place, followed by Beers n’ Bones, Totally Smoked and Uncle Earnie’s.
Another recent addition to Ribfest was the Lincoln Driven to Give event. The Lincoln Motor Company was doing test drives across the street, and for every test drive they gave $30 to Main Street Beatrice and a free admission into Ribfest.
Michael Sothan, the executive director of Main Street Beatrice, said they received roughly $4,500 from the event last year.
Sothan said the money goes towards adding murals downtown, bike racks, trash receptacles and benches, as well as helping small businesses.
“We actually have a revolving loan program that we give out to help business and property owners with projects downtown,” Sothan said.