For the Love of BBQ: Interstates Goes for the Gold at RibFest

This summer, our Minnesota Regional Office was a sponsor for Street Fest. Street Fest was started by the Brainerd Jaycees. Their goal was to create a weekend-long event that combined fun for the whole community and of course the love of BBQ! The Brainerd Jaycees have been hosting this event since 2002. Interstates donated labor, parts, and material to hook up all the temporary power for the Cub Foods RibFest. Proceeds from the event went to the Lake Area Habitat for Humanity.

Prepping for the Big Event

Our crew set up temporary power on Friday afternoon. We typically use generators to power food vendors, but quickly realized the noise from the generators would be an issue. Therefore, we decided to give them temporary power. After two trips to the store and a brand new panel, we were able to accommodate all the vendors’ power needs. Though we did have to do a little improvising with duct tape to ‘weather proof’ the panel for the weekend. In the end, we made it work!

Once set up of temporary power was complete, I put my volunteer t-shirt and got to work. Our team helped set up the stage, VIP tent, marinated ribs, and made sure the beer trailer was working properly. We also offered to test the adult beverages to ensure none were poisonous; obviously for the safety of the general public…

We kicked off Friday with a chicken wing cook off. Our team helped the competitors prep the wings for judging. Once all votes were in, we counted up all the votes and announced the winner. Next it was time to prep the ribs. We prepped 14 racks of ribs for the competition! Without giving away any secrets, we used a homemade rub (Jess’s almost famous) which included around 11 different ingredients.

Ribs, Ribs, and More Ribs

Saturday morning we arrived early to set up our tent and smokers. We started the smokers around 10:00 am and cooked our ribs for approximately 6.5 hours. We had a couple tricks up our sleeves to keep the meat tender and juicy, but that information is highly confidential… At 5:00 pm all 22 teams prepared their ribs for judging. The ribs were judged by 5 judges selected randomly. We were judged on three categories: appearance, tenderness, and overall taste. When it comes to BBQ, my preference is a slightly chewy, gnaw off the bone type. Yet, in the middle of Minnesota, far from BBQ country, people tend to prefer the fall off the bone type. We ended up placing 12th out of 22 teams. It was a great team building event for us and we’re already talking of ways to take our ribs to the next level at the 2018 event! But that’s a secret, for now.

On Sunday morning, we helped take down all temporary power and clean up the site. Clean up took about two hours. We are proud to have participated in this event for a great cause. It was also a fun team building event for us and we’re already talking of ways we can take our ribs to the next level at the 2018 event! But that’s a secret… for now.


Jesse Bates, Interstates Superintendent