There may be two rib events next year

Ribfest may return to downtown Warren in 2014.

If it does, there could be two barbecue-focused events in the county next summer, possibly at the same time.

After several years at Betts Park, Ribfest moved to the Warren County Fairgrounds in 2013 where it was combined with other events.

Now, the event known as Ribfest could move back to its original venue – the streets of Warren.

“At our last Main Street board of directors meeting, the board voted to return RibFest back to the downtown next summer,” Main Street President Dan Ristau said.

Ristau asserted that Main Street owns the event and its images.

But, last year Ribfest was managed by the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry. Ristau and WCCBI President and CEO worked out an agreement to have the chamber head up the event.

“As president, I saw things falling apart that year,” Ristau said. “It wasn’t so much about the finances… it was a critical moment in the life of Main Street and simply not having the manpower to do it that year.”

“The last thing that I would ever do is put on an event that isn’t up to snuff,” he said.

“That year when I met with Jim and worked all that out, that was simply for that year,” he said. “There was no expression of any kind that that was a permanent thing.”

Main Street was not happy to see the festival moved away from the City of Warren. “To our chagrin, he changed the name and took it out of the city,” Ristau said. “We are all indignant.”

Main Street is now in a position to take control back.

While Decker finds it dubious that a rib festival could be owned, he has no objection to Main Street getting back in the saddle. “We would not challenge their right to take on such an event.”

WCCBI plans to drop the Ribfest and make the Regions Archery Tournament and Kansas City Barbecue Society Pennsylvania State Championship the focus of the event at the fairgrounds.

“Based upon the response to this multi-faceted event structure this year we do not intend to include the variety of professional ribbers with the archery event in 2014,” Decker said. “We will have a variety of food vendors involved in the event but will not be holding a true ‘Ribfest’.”

“We will be hosting the 2014 State Championship Barbecue event in conjunction with the Regions event as we did this year, a location and atmosphere that was very attractive to the KCBS staff and competitors alike,” he said.

Neither Ristau nor Decker specified proposed dates for their events.