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Are you ready for a great weekend of BBQ & Blues?
, Courier Staff Writer
Thursday, August 15, 2013 11:00 AM
Ribberfest, Madison's weekend of blues and barbeque on the riverfront, offers more than just the competitions and music during the two-day event.
The family-friendly event includes other activities throughout the weekend to round out the "rest of the fest," including the painted PigMania pigs, the return of riverboat cruises, three cornhole tournaments, Piglet Pen play area for the kids, the 5K run/walk and the popular rib-eating contest.
Ribberfest director Kathy Ayers said the additional events add to the huge party atmosphere on the riverfront.
"It's the last big hurrah before winter," Ayers said of the event.
Dozens of pigs dot the sidewalks and sit near business entrances around Madison reminding local residents and tourists that Ribberfest is just a few days away.
More businesses decided to decorate the pigs this year while showing support for the event and supporting the Ribberfest scholarship, which is awarded to a graduating high school senior each year.
"We started with 10 pigs the first year," Ayers said.
The numbers have increased over the last decade to include many more businesses. This year, the number increased to more than 50 painted pigs throughout the downtown area and on the hilltop. Businesses and organizations may chose to decorate their pigs to represent their business, personality or the Ribberfest event.
PigMania pigs will be transported to the corral area on Vaughn Drive prior to the festival by the PigMania committee.
"We have a lot of people go through the pig corral," she said. "It's a real tourist attraction."
Visitors may vote for their favorite pigs by placing money - or Ribberfest tickets - in the cans setting next to the pigs, which will be displayed on the riverfront during the two-day event.
Prior to the festival this year, merchants collect votes in sealed cans at their businesses.
"(Event chairman Kevin Watkins) says you can't buy a competition - except this one," Ayers said.
Some of the PigMania pigs will be up for auction during the festival. A few people asked to purchase the decorative pigs last year, and the sale of the pigs will help to raise more money for the scholarship this year.
"There will be a sign in front of the pigs that are for sale," Ayers said.
The "Spirit of Cincinnati" and the boat's captain make a return trip this year.
The riverboat first came to the festival during the 10th Ribberfest and has returned each year since because people liked the concept, Ayers said.
The paddle-wheel boat plans to take passengers on a 45- to 50-minute cruise on the Ohio River Friday and Saturday. Boat cruises will leave the city dock at 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Cruises will allow the public and Ribberfest visitors to enjoy the sights and sounds of the festival from the river.
"The nice thing is it's open for the public," Ayers said.
The boat will dock at the boat ramp near West Street and Vaughn Drive. The riverboat ride will-call area for tickets will be located next to the Ribberfest gate at West Street and Vaughn Drive.
Tickets are available for $15 per person. People wearing a 2013 Madison Ribberfest wristband will receive a refund of $5 at will-call when picking up tickets for advanced orders.
Tickets for children ages 4 to 12 are $3, and children ages 3 and under are free with a paying adult.
Advanced orders will have a $1 handling fee and may be purchased by calling 265-2956 or (800) 559-2956.
PigToss returns to Ribberfest for another year of friendly - and fierce - competition on the riverfront.
"And it's bigger than ever," Ayers said.
Three tournaments will be held - 6 p.m. on Friday and two on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
The Friday tournament and the first Saturday tournament will have an entry fee of $15 per two-person team. The two team members should sign up for the tournaments near the PigToss set-up on Vaughn Drive.
The last tournament on Saturday will be a blind draw for partners with a $5 entry fee per player.
Each tournament will have total prizes of $170 plus 100 percent of the entry fees collected, event chairman Bob Vonch said.
Vonch doesn't know how many teams may participate, but he said Saturday's tournaments will most likely have more teams than Friday's event.
The family-friendly Ribberfest event offers lots of activities for adults and kids.
While parents enjoy the music and competitions at Ribberfest, kids can play in a supervised environment known as the Piglet Pen in Kiwanis Park at the corner of Vaughn Drive and Broadway. The Kids Company Early Learning Center will staff the play area again this year.
The play area will include several inflatable bounce houses and other playground toys. Greg the Magical Entertainer returns this year for shows during Friday and Saturday sessions from 6 to 10 p.m., Ayers said.
The Piglet Pen will be open for one four-hour session on Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Piglet Pen opens for two four-hour sessions on Saturday. The Saturday sessions will be from noon to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Entry into the Piglet Pen costs $6 per child per session, or a special family rate of $5 each for two siblings per session. Costs are $4 each for three or more siblings per session.
The third annual 5K RibberRun walk/run will take place Saturday morning.
The race begins and ends at Fireman's Park at the corner of Vaughn Drive and Jefferson Street. Racers will follow the marked trail through the downtown Madison area, but racers won't be going through the Ribberfest area like last year, Ayers said. Instead, the race will return to the route much like its inaugural year.
"We went back to the original route," Ayers said.
Participants may pre-register for the event, or sign up the day of the race beginning at 6:30 a.m. at Fireman's Park. Registration is $15 a person, and entries received before Aug. 1 were guaranteed a T-shirt. Registrations submitted after Aug. 1 may receive shirts while supplies last.
First place winners in the men's and women's category will receive a cutting board in the shape of Indiana. First and second place winners in each category will receive a medallion.
An annual festival favorite returns Saturday as participants try to clean a rack of ribs as fast as they can.
The annual rib-eating contest sponsored by Madison Apothecary takes place in front of the music stage during the 3 p.m. break between the musical acts of Dust Radio and Josh Garrett. A first-, second- and third-place winner will be awarded prizes for finishing their ribs in the shortest amount of time.
"That's a real crowd pleaser," Ayers said of the event.
Several former competition winners are expected to attend to defend their titles.
Participants may register for the contest during the day of the event at the souvenir tent near the stage.
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