FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The 23rd annual BBQ RibFest will take place this weekend at Headwaters Park, however the festival will have a different setup amid the pandemic.
“We had to eliminate all of our national competition. So what we’re doing is, we’ve changed it to the RibFest concert series. We felt that we had to salvage that side of it because we’ve got such great bands lined up,” said Cindy Chappuis, Executive Director of BBQ RibFest.
Festival organizers worked closely with the City of Fort Wayne and the Allen County Health Department to create a safe environment for the event.
Face masks are required for all attendees. Hand sanitizer will be available and all tables will be cleaned throughout the night. Admission will continue until festival organizers feel that social distancing is no longer possible.
“We had to reduce the number of tables dramatically, but Headwaters Park is 4.2 acres. It’s a huge plaza and we feel that even if you want to bring your own chair, you can sit where you want and with whomever you want,” said Chappuis.
Tim Johnson is the owner of Timmy’s BBQ, one of the two local barbecue vendors at this years RibFest. Johnson said that he does not mind having a condensed version of the event. He said he was overwhelmed with joy when he got the call that RibFest would not be canceled.
“Boom! We were excited, we were really excited. I called my wife right away. I said get your family on. We gotta go, It’s showtime,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s enthusiasm for the event goes beyond it being just another opportunity to throw some ribs on the cooker. His fondness for Ribest stems from what it stands for.
“We’ve been hustling out on some street corners all summer long and this is the first event that we’ve been able to do,” said Johnson. “I’ve lost about 16 shows this year and Ribfest is one of my favorites. This and Three Rivers Festival is what Fort Wayne’s all about.”
Griffin’s Barbeque owner Jeffrey Griffin also jumped at the opportunity to return to Ribfest, his first in eight years. He was not sure what to expect from the limited crowd but wanted to work the festival since so many others have been canceled.
“I’m from Fort Wayne, I love Fort Wayne, I like to participate in the events that they have and this is the first one of the year,” said Griffin. “It’s not as busy as we anticipated but with the virus out here we kind anticipated it a little slow, but not bad.”
BBQ RibFest runs from 6 until 11:30 PM both Friday and Saturday night. Two local barbecue vendors are attending and live music acts will perform both nights.
For more information on BBQ RibFest 2020, click here.