9:40 AM, Apr 25, 2011   |    comments
2008 award winners
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CLEVELAND -- Only one competitive sport ends with a winner covered in barbecue sauce and charcoal!


Rib rebels from seven states will fire up the grills and clash spatulas at the 20th Annual Marc's Great American Rib Cook Off & Music Festival presented by Time Warner Cable, The Plain Dealer, WKYC-TV3 and MinuteMenJobs.com.


The saucy grilling showdown for the coveted prize of "Greatest Ribs in America" will spark May 27 and blaze through May 30, 2011 at Jacobs Pavilion and the Nautica Entertainment Complex on the West Bank of the Flats.


Northeast Ohio's most rockin' Rib Cook Off is celebrating its 20th anniversary in a new downtown Cleveland location.  After years at Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Tower City, the newly named Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica and adjacent Nautica Entertainment Complex will host the 2011 Marc's Great American Rib Cook Off & Music Festival. The landmark venue on the West Bank of the Flats is located along the Cuyahoga River behind The Powerhouse in downtown Cleveland. For a map and driving directions, visit www.wkyc.com/rib.


From sassy to smoky, competitive grilling styles and sauce techniques vary across America, resulting in a flavorful feast where no two bones are alike. Barbecue enthusiasts can sample and compare tender, competition-quality ribs from the heart of Texas, the Windy City, Ohio's own professional pit masters and everywhere in between. More than 100,000 rib enthusiasts are expected to spend Memorial Day Weekend taste testing the country's best ribs, brisket and pulled pork from three new competitors and seven past favorites.


Whether you're a decorated veteran or a rookie rising up the BBQ ranks, the pros take pride in the art of barbecue. Each grill team is passionate about homemade sauces, family traditions, top-secret dry rub recipes and shiny trophies. Diehard rib fans will decide who takes home the Akron-Canton Airport "People's Choice" crown while a panel of hand-selected judges chew over who deserves "Greatest Ribs in America."  The event's top prize for sauce will now and forever be known as the "Butch Lupinetti Greatest Sauce in America" award in honor of the late New Jersey grilling great who won the title on multiple occasions, competed at the Cleveland Rib Cook Off for 19 consecutive years and passed away in 2010.



An elite panel of BBQ connoisseurs as well as local Northeast Ohio celebrities will judge piles of meaty bones using a blind taste test method. To determine the big winners, the judges will rate ribs in several categories including appearance, sauce, meat and tenderness. 



While Akron-Canton Airport is a better way to go, being a "People's Choice" judge is a better way to score complimentary bones at the Rib Cook Off!  During select hours of the festival, visit the WDOK booth and take a crack at the WDOK Mega Money Machine for the chance to become an official Akron-Canton Airport "People's Choice" judge. These lucky judges will be presented with free saucy ribs to taste test and rank.  The Akron-Canton Airport "People's Choice" judging will take place a minimum of three (3) times a day.  This prestigious prize is determined by the people, so we need your vote!



Competitive grilling is not for the faint of heart. On Memorial Day Monday, May 30, grill teams will be recognized and winners will be crowned during the 3:15pm Awards Ceremony. The winners will receive:


"Greatest Ribs in America"               "Greatest Sauce in America"              "People's Choice"

1st Prize:  $2,000 and trophy            1st Prize:  $1,500 and trophy              Trophy & bragging rights!

2nd Prize: $1,000 and trophy            2nd Prize: $500 and trophy

3rd Prize:  Trophy                              3rd Prize:  Trophy



After winning the 2010 title for "Greatest Ribs in America," the team to beat is DD Stutz's Jack on the Bone from Massillon, Ohio.  Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ from Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, will defend its "Greatest Sauce in America" trophy while Famous Dave's BBQ from Plymouth, Minnesota, hopes to sear the competition and remain the "People's Choice" prizewinner.



Meet the defending 2010 champ of "Greatest Ribs in America!"  Jack on the Bone has been on the fast track since debuting at the Cleveland Rib Cook Off in 2008 and scoring a second place for "Greatest Ribs in America" during its sophomore appearance. Owner Dave Amstutz has over 20 years of experience and is looking to keep the hot streak alive in 2011. After spending years in the restaurant business, Dave decided to dedicate his time and skill to the cook off circuit.  His tender, smoked slabs are coated with a special dry rub, then cooked slow and low for three hours.  What's the key ingredient to the team's award winning ribs? That would be pure Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey.  Jack on the Bone in Massillon, Ohio, has earned multiple "Best Ribs" and "Best Sauce" awards from major rib competitions in Canada, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Columbus and offers four sauces including "Original," "Smokey Jack," "Sweet Jack" and "Hot Jack." 



The fiery personality and award-winning BBQ recipes of the late Butch Lupinetti will live on! Butch's family will take the reigns of the lip smackin' franchise and return to Cleveland to defend its 2010 "Greatest Sauce in America" title.  This year, the grilling team from Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, will also mark its 20th appearance at the Cleveland Rib Cook Off. With six sensational sauces and more than 500 awards, Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ has traveled and competed across the US.. and Canada for the past 25 years.  Visit www.smackyourlipsbbq.com.



Famous Dave's BBQ will never forget last year's saucy competition! After the smoke cleared, the Plymouth, Minnesota, team walked away as the "People's Choice" champion. With over 400 "Best In Class" awards and counting, the world-class grill team has been part of the Cleveland rib tradition for more than 15 years.  Famous Dave's owner Dave Anderson knows a thing or two about grilling up good BBQ and is most proud of his famous "Rich & Sassy" sauce.  Visit www.famousdaves.com.



Last year, the Pigfoot BBQ Company took home a third place finish for "Greatest Sauce in America."  Owner Jerry Gibson from West Salem, Ohio, has competed at the Rib Cook Off for 14 years and knows what it takes to win over the taste buds of Northeast Ohioans.  After owning a pizza and rib restaurant, Jerry went pro and began competing in 1989.  During the past 20 years, this family-owned business has traveled the country from Florida and Toronto to St. Louis and Boston.  Along the way, Pigfoot BBQ has won more than 250 awards for serving up the best ribs and sauce.  For rib fans that want to slather their bones with an award-winning sauce, the team will offer its mild, sweet, hot, killer and applelicious BBQ sauce varieties.  Visit www.pigfootbbq.com.





Marinating is the name of the game for this griller from the Windy City.  Owner and barbeque expert Tom Ferguson from Bolingbrook, Illinois, opened Chicago BBQ Company in the spring of 1985, with a vision of creating Chicago's ultimate barbeque experience. Trained in the fine art of low and slow smoking at the age of 10, Tom hit the competitive rib circuit in 1988. To create his infamous fall-off-the-bone ribs, Ferguson soaks his meat in a zesty marinade for 24 hours and brings his love and passion to every slab served.  Visit www.chicagobbq4u.com.



Ray Gill of Blytheville, Arkansas, has 30 years of grilling under his belt and barbecue in his blood. He uses a tomato-based southern-style sauce and sticks to a 100-year old dry rub recipe to bring perfection to his meaty ribs.  Ray combined the family's secret recipe with some secrets of his own and has won barbecue contests worldwide. While grilling in the pits, Ray can be spotted wearing pig-covered boxer shorts over his jeans. The barbecue veteran returns to Cleveland hungry for a win!



Specializing in authentic, pit-smoked barbeque, Uncle Bub's BBQ is sure to bring some fire to this year's competition. The Uncle Bub's grilling team measures smoke and swine against the finest barbeque craftsmen in the country. Owner Mark Link makes sure his meats are gently rubbed and marinated with a combination of secret spices before cooking for up to 22 hours in a specially designed hickory and applewood smoker.  His team selects only the freshest and most flavorful cuts of pork, beef and poultry and hand trims each one before they are deemed pit worthy. Visit www.unclebubs.com.





Solomon Williams, who is known in BBQ circles as King Solomon, is a fan favorite in Cleveland. By combining his love of people, his honor of heritage and his passion for barbecuing, the grilling guru has racked up Cleveland Rib Cook Off awards for "Greatest Ribs in America," "Greatest Sauce in America" and "People's Choice." Solomon dry rubs his award-winning ribs with a blend of homemade seasonings and then smothers every bone with a sweet tomato-based sauce. Visit www.carolinaribking.com.



Dan Johnson cooks his ribs with indirect heat and won't add his award-winning sauce until the bones are ready to come off the grill. The sweet Texas-style sauce is an old family recipe that originated in North Carolina. The top-secret recipe has won the Chesapeake, Virginia, grilling team accolades in Cleveland and across the country. Johnson's BBQ is always a crowd pleaser and the long lines at the grill prove it!  Dan dares brave rib fans to take the heat and experience his infamous "Thermonuclear Sauce."  It's an electrifying concoction that is blazin' hot!  Visit www.johnsons-bbq.com.



Sutphen's Texas Thunder will return to the Cleveland BBQ pits to prove they have what it takes to be the best. Joe Sutphen's prestigious track record is proof that the veteran cooker knows good Texas barbecue. Joe's philosophy about award-winning BBQ goes something like this: "First you stick your arm in the smoke and when all the hair is gone, that's how you know you're cooking good.  When it's almost uninhabitable for human beings, that's when the smoke and sauce get married to the rib."  Visit www.texasthunderbbq.com.



Friday, May 27        11 a.m. to 11 p.m.  

Saturday, May 28      Noon to 11 p.m.  

Sunday, May 29        Noon to 11 p.m.  

Monday, May 30        Noon to 8 p.m.    


The 20th Annual Marc's Great American Rib Cook Off & Music Festival has moved to the newly named Jacobs Pavilion and the adjacent Nautica Entertainment Complex on the West Bank of the Flats in downtown Cleveland. For more details, new venue information or driving directions, visit the festival's new and official website www.wkyc.com/rib or call the Jacobs Pavilion Box Office at 216.622.6557.


General admission is FREE UNTIL 3PM EVERYDAY compliments of Ohio Natural Gas, the official gas provider for Live Nation and House of Blues Cleveland. Adult general admission is ONLY $5 with coupon from Marc's or with online coupon from WKYC.com.  Kids 12 and under are FREE everyday, all hours.  Entertainment continues to be FREE with paid general admission.


20th Anniversary Rock & Ribs Dining Deal and Music Package!  Rib lovers can purchase this special offer while supplies last and receive $50 worth of food & beverage tickets and 2 FREE general admission tickets to the Rib Cook Off, which includes headline entertainment, for ONLY $28! That's a $66 value for only $28, plus applicable service fees. This limited time offer is available exclusively online beginning April 29 at www.wkyc.com/rib.


Advance general admission tickets and a limited number of Front-of-Stage General Admission "BBQ PIT" tickets for Seether and prime reserved seats for Collective Soul and Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, which include admission to the Rib Cook Off, are on sale now at www.livenation.com and all Ticketmaster locations. There are no discounts on advance general admission tickets or prime reserved seat tickets.


This Memorial Day weekend, play downtown and stay downtown at the Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland Downtown - the official hotel of Jacobs Pavilion and the Marc's Great American Rib Cook Off & Music Festival.  Contact the reservations desk at 216.658.6400 for details!


The 20th anniversary of the Marc's Great American Rib Cook Off & Music Festival is produced by Live Nation and co-presented by Time Warner Cable, The Plain Dealer, WKYC-TV3 and MinuteMenJobs.com.

Associate sponsors include Anheuser-Busch Inc., Akron-Canton Airport, Bluegreen Vacations, Bud Light, Clear Choice Custom LASIK Center, Constellation Wines, Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, House of LaRose, Kraft, Ohio Department of Tourism, Ohio Natural Gas, Nabisco, Renewal by Andersen, Scene Magazine, Snyder of Berlin Salty Snacks, Travelwise Vacations, Windows on the River, 96.5 KISS FM, 102.1 WDOK, 99.5 WGAR, WKNR 850, Majic 105.7, 100.7 WMMS, 106.5 The Lake, 98.5 WNCX, Q104, V107.3, WTAM 1100, Radio 92.3, 93.1 WZAK. 

Our 2011 charitable partner is Easter Seals.


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