Rock, Ribs and Ridges

At the 5th Annual Rock, Ribs and Ridges Festival, George Thorogood and The Destroyers will celebrate being “Bad to the Bone,” but the meat will all be good to the bone.

This year’s event, on June 28 and 29, will be held for the first time at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta.

The schedule includes performances by rock legends Grand Funk Railroad, New Riders of the Purple Sage, the Outlaws and Leslie West of Mountain, as well as the Farmer Phil Band, Citizens Band Radio, the Artimus Pyle Band and the Pfeiffer Twins.

As the musicians rock, five professional “ribbers” will grill for the gold, as well as provide finger-lickin’ food for attendees.

“The thing that makes our event different," says executive producer Howard Freeman, "is that the grillers are contestants as well as concessionaires.”

After sampling the ribs of the five pitmasters, patrons are invited to vote for the chef they think deserves to win the Weis Markets People’s Choice Award for Best Overall Barbeque.

In addition, a team of judges will hand out trophies and cash prizes for Best Ribs and Best Sauce.

The competing pitmasters hail from…

–Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Newark(
–Three Men and a Baby Back in Bergen County (
–Texas Smoke Barbecue in Jefferson (
–Pigtails Barbeque
from West Salem, Ohio (
–Chumley’s BBQ and Catering from just across the border in Florida (Orange County), New York

Dan Lemire of Chumleys will defend his 2013 crown, won at last year’s festival. Lemire, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a native of Westwood, cooked for 12 years in a kosher deli. After visiting Charleston, South Carolina, in 2001, “I was so enamored with barbeque,” he says, that he started selling his own at farmer’s markets and street fairs throughout the tri-state area.

Lemire’s spice-rubbed, slow-cooked ribs, pulled pork and brisket were so well received that a year later, in 2002, he expanded his menu and opened his 18-seat shop.

Not until last year’s competition did Lemirestart smoking his meats for added flavor. Along with pounds of St. Louis ribs, boneless pork butt and choice brisket, he will bring “a really cool Southern Yankee barrel smoker.” It’s a 12-foot-long electric rotisserie. “We use a light, applewood smoke,” Lemire says, “so the flavor of the meat still shines through. That’s very important.”

Lemire also will serve festival goers steak, chicken, sausage, cole slaw, baked beans and cornbread.

“I gotta be on top of my game,” Lemire says. “We’re going up against some powerhouses, but I’m confident that we can come back and do it again.”

And what about the ridges in the name Rock, Ribs and Ridges, you ask?

It refers to the festival’s previous site, the Hidden Valley ski resort.

One-day, general admission tickets are $40; weekend passes are  $70. Food is not included.


SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at

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