Bad to the Bone

More than the feeling they get when the wind comes sweeping down the plain, Oklahomans love barbeque. Barbecued ribs, to be precise.
So when the BOK Center began devising a plan to attract Oklahomans to its 1-year-old, 19,199-seat concert arena for an annual fall event, it cleverly went the stomach-to-heart route with its first Rock ‘n Rib Festival, sponsored by local fast-casual eatery Rib Crib BBQ & Grill.
“Right now (the BOK Center) is a brand new arena, and we’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of big acts come to Tulsa,” said Jeff Nickler, special events manager for the SMG-managed center. “Down the road, as acts thin out and the arena is not as full, we’ll need other events to draw people to the arena. This will be a sustainable annual event.”
Nickler said the BOK Center will eventually host at least one sustainable annual event per season. The colder months already boast Winterfest, which, in its second year, will expand from Frisco Avenue, where it was last year, to Third Street, in between the BOK Center and the Federal Building. Winterfest will also have “a larger (ice skating) rink, bigger tree and improved concessions,” he said.
The Rock ‘n Rib Festival, of which Tulsa Business Journal and local grill manufacturer Hasty-Bake are sponsors, will have downtown rockin’ for four days, Sept. 17-20, with seven award-winning rib vendors and other concessions purveyors treating downtown-goers with delicious barbecue and fair fare while 13 regional bands entertain.
Bands will include Admiral Twin, My Solstice, Travis Kidd, Sam & the Stylees, Turnpike Troubadours, Red Dirt Rangers and Earl Clark. Anheuser Busch will also be on hand providing libations.
The seven rib vendors to be featured are “professional rib pit masters,” according to Nickler.
“All they do is go from city to city, competing,” he said.
They are:
Desperado’s BBQ, Hinckley, Ohio
Desperado’s features pork ribs, beef ribs, pork sandwiches and chicken. Lee Rice and his cooking team are winners of more than 200 first-place awards, including the $15,000 “Best Ribs in America” prize.
Big Boned BBQ, Hixon, Tenn.
Big Boned BBQ makes St. Louis-style pork ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket with a decades-old family recipe. The father-and-son duo, Pat and John Nelson, has won awards for their ribs, brisket and signature sauce, including recent awards in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Pittsburgh.
Aussom Aussie, Sydney, Australia
Paul “Aussom Aussie” Mackay has developed a traditional Australian fruit-based barbecue sauce. He has won more than 150 contests in North America, including the Great American Rib Cook-Off and Reno’s “Best in the West.”
Willingham’s World Champion BBQ, Memphis, Tenn.
John Willingham serves his ribs “Que dry,” with sauce served on the side. He believes it’s the only way for tasters to appreciate his legendary dry rub. His “Cool Breeze Sauce” is a hot one, leaving heat connoisseurs raving.
Coyote Roadhouse, Chicago, Ill.
Coyote Roadhouse is home to the Howling Coyote BBQ Team, which has been serving barbecue since 1989. They specialize in St. Louis-style pork spare ribs, smoked and slow cooked. The team has won national and international competitions and boasts more than 60 years of combined professional cooking experience.
Rasta Joe’s Jamaican BBQ, Plymouth, Ind.
Joe Alexander, “Rasta Joe,” serves Jamaican-style pork and chicken and has been barbecuing for more than 30 years. Rasta was recently featured by the Food Network at the National Rib Cook-Off in Sparks, Nev.
Johnson’s BBQ, Chesapeake, Va.
Home of the “Thermonuclear Sauce,” Johnson’s BBQ makes sauces, dry rubs and uses smoking techniques. Johnson’s has won more than 120 national awards in the last five years.
The Rock ‘n Rib Festival is free Thursday and Friday before 1 p.m. and $3 per person all other hours. Children under 12 get in for free.?

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