Rock'n Ribfest returns

A rib vendor grills up specialty barbecue during a prior Rock’n Ribfest event in Merrimack. The annual summer tradition has been rebranded as the Great American Ribfest and FoodTruck Festival, and will be hosted by a new rotary club.

MERRIMACK — Six months after the organizers of Rock’n Ribfest announced that the annual barbecue event was coming to an end, another organization has stepped up to host and restructure the festival.

The event, renamed the Great American Ribfest and Food Truck Festival, will be held during Father’s Day weekend at the Anheuser-Busch plant in Merrimack.

“We are extremely excited to bring this landmark event back,” Robert Best, president-elect of the Merrimack Rotary Club, said in a statement. “When we heard the event was canceled after 16 great years and so much good work done for local charities, we started thinking about what we could do to save it for the community.”

Last October, the Nashua West Rotary Club announced that after 16 years it would no longer host the event, which typically attracted more than 30,000 people and raised thousands of dollars each year for dozens of nonprofit organizations in the region.

Best said a team of volunteers with the Merrimack Rotary Club will be working to make the inaugural Great American Ribfest and Food Truck Festival a success by expanding on what Rock’n Ribfest already had in place for so many years. The three-day event, from June 14 to June 16, will include plenty of barbecue, including ribs, chicken, pulled pork, beer, games, music and food trucks.

“It’s hard to improve on the Ribfest we all know and love. However, we’re going to try our best,” Dan DeCourcey, event organizer, said in a release.

DeCourcey is the owner of Up In Your Grill, a Merrimack barbecue truck. He said the newly revised festival will focus on family-friendly pricing with cheaper tickets, food and beverages.

“We’re really making a conscious decision to deliver wallet-friendly value for families with lower online tickets and a family pack price that should really roll out the red carpet for the community,” he said in a statement.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Merrimack Rotary Club, which, in turn, supports the local community with scholarships, food pantry donations, coats for children and more. The new organizers are hoping to attract about 20,000 visitors for its first event.

Activities include two live band performances on June 14, four bands on June 15 and three bands on June 16, with a variety of music such as Top 40, rock, blues and country. Online tickets will be available for $8 for adults, $4 for kids 15 and under and $25 for a family pass for two adults and three or more kids.