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35,000 are expected at three-day Ribfest
"We put love and soul into every rib we prepare," said Jack McDavid, co-owner of Jack's Down Home BBQ in Pennsylvania.
McDavid, whose grandfather taught him how to slow cook the ribs over hickory wood, said he will distribute thousands of racks of ribs throughout the three-day event, along with other grilled specialty items such as brisket, pulled pork and barbecue chicken.
"It was definitely a rainy start, but today they have been coming in droves," said Jill Gage, one of the organizers from the Nashua West Rotary Club, the group that hosts Ribfest each year.
"This is absolutely phenomenal," said Sandy Vincent of Nashua.
Paul Hunt of Stoneham, Mass., agreed. Saturday was Hunt's second visit to Rock'n Ribfest.
Along with rib vendors from New Hampshire were professionals from New Jersey, Canada, Pennsylvania and Vermont. T-Roy's Barbecue of Amherst participated.
Hamele started smoking ribs at 2 a.m. Saturday, preparing for a long line of hungry customers once the gates opened.
"We use all homemade seasonings and sauces, and we are one of the few to use fresh ribs that are not frozen," he said.
"Of course we love the ribs, which is why we come, but we also love the entertainment," said Doug Kabel of Merrimack.
The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at 221 Daniel Webster Highway. Admission is $10 at the gate. Children 8 and younger get in free.
The competition is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and the New England Barbecue Society; the winner will be qualified to enter the National Barbecue Championship later this year in Arkansas.