You've got two ways to get your BBQ on this weekend. Fountain Valley hosts their second annual rib burn, and Westminster holds their inaugural sanctioned barbecue competition. At either event, you'll have a chance to walk among the cooks and sample their smoked meats.
The real-deal contest at the Westminster Mall is called the Ribs, Pigs, and Watermelons Pro BBQ Competition. It's a fundraiser for American Family Housing, a nonprofit that helps the homeless. There will be carnival games, bands and the Lakers Girls.
The OC BBQ Bonanza is the rib burn that takes place at the Fountain Valley Sports Complex on Brookhurst & Heil. This is a for-profit food festival organized by the folks that put on the Long Beach Lobster Festival and Tustin Chili Cookoff. No Lakers Girls are expected at this one.
What's the difference between a rib burn and a sanctioned contest? The vendors cooking a rib burn aren't there for competition. They're large-scale caterers cooking for thousands of people attending a food festival who expect to eat good barbecue, and lots of it. Attendees can sample their way around one rib at a time, or they can buy a whole rack at a time if they want. There may or may not be a people's choice aspect, but the vendors are too busy counting their money to care much about it.
A sanctioned contest, on the other hand, assembles pro and amateur hobbyists who are cooking food to submit before trained judges. Most teams are cooking small quantities on backyard-sized equipment. Though some competition teams are full-time BBQ caterers that are quite capable of feeding large crowds, they're the minority. Because they're cooking for certified expert judges, any team wanting to win the competition is going to cook near-perfect barbecue that the public can sample after teams turn in food to the judges' tent.
Even we are torn about these choices. This infernal rag's an official sponsor of the rib burn, but this writer's active as in the world of competition Q, so will be in the judges' tent in Westminster.
Which should you attend? If you want to assure yourself that you'll have the opportunity to sample BBQ until you're bursting while knowing you're eating mass-prepared food, then head to the rib burn. If you want to taste the best barbecue being cooked this weekend at the risk of going home still peckish, then drive over to the Westminster Mall with the Lakers Girls.
Ribs, Pigs, and Watermelons. August 17, 18, and 19. In the Westminster Mall parking lot between JCPenneys and Sears.
Friday: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Saturday: Noon to 10:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 8:00 p.m.
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$2.50 Kids 7-12
Free: Kids 6 and Under
$10.00 Families up to 6 people
BBQ sample tickets:
$3 for one
$10 for four
$20 for ten
OC BBQ Bonanza: Fountain Valley Sports Park, Brookhurst Street & Heil Ave.
August 17, 18, 19
Sample items range in price from $2 to $25.
VIP tent admission $65 for all you can eat ribs in a 4 hour session.