Rock'n Ribfest promises 3 days of food and fun in Merrimack
By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent | June 12. 2013 8:54PM
John Lowe, co-owner of Jack's Down Home BBQ in Philadelphia, cooks a batch of ribs during the Rock'n Ribfest held at Anheuser-Busch in Merrimack last year. Union Leader File
Organizers anticipate up to 35,000 attendees for the popular event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Nashua West.
Sunday's activity kicks off with the Ribfest 5 Miler road race and Kids' Piglet Runs, followed by free early admission entrance to Ribfest for all participants.
A barbecue taste testing will be available Friday night, along with a professional grilling demonstration. On Saturday night, the first comedy show will take place inside of the brewery, coupled with a superstar karaoke competition on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
In addition, about 40 competitors will try their luck in the New Hampshire State Barbecue Championship.
Each year, the event seems to pick up momentum, said Betsy Houde, volunteer coordinator. Past rib vendors have included T-Roy's Hickory Smoked Barbecue from Amherst, which has won the People's Choice award for best ribs at least three times in the past 10 years. Other vendors have included Big Moe's M&M Ribs, Rasta Joe's BBQ, Aussom Aussie, Firefly's, Jack's Down Home BBQ, Gator BBQ Co., Smoke'N Dudes and Firebox.
In addition to ribs, pulled pork and barbecued chicken, more traditional fare will also be offered, including roasted corn, fried clams, apple crisp, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders, fried dough, pizza and more.
Music, entertainment, strolling artists and performers will fill the grounds of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery for the three-day event, which will be held rain or shine. All of the money raised from the festival will be distributed to local nonprofit organizations. In the past, the rotary has raised about $100,000 from the Rock'n Ribfest.
The Anheuser-Busch Brewery is located at 221 Daniel Webster Highway. The event will run from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday (with a special 10 a.m. opening for road-race participants) and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7 at the gate, and children under 8 are free. New this year, the New Hampshire International Speedway will provide an open-air trolley for attendees parking at the nearby Elbit parking lot. Traditional bus shuttles will ferry guests to and from the nearby BAE Systems parking lot. The Union Leader is among those in the business community sponsoring the Rock'n Ribfest. For more details, including a complete schedule, go to ribfestnh.org.