Rib fest returns to Renzie for Labor Day weekend

| Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 4:36 a.m.

The aroma of barbecue will be in the air at the Lions Bandshell in Renziehausen Park this holiday weekend.

McKeesport's second annual Rib Festival kicks off Saturday and continues through Labor Day from noon to dusk.

Award-winners such as the Viking Smokehouse, Big Girl's BBQ, Willie P's BBQ and other such vendors will do the cooking, and McKeesport Lions Club will sell drinks, hamburgers and hot dogs.

“The McKeesport Rib Festival offers a full schedule to celebrate this very successful summer season,” festival chairman Dan Carr said. “Their will be top entertainment, a real car cruise and show, ending with a grand finale fireworks display. Our parks system and recreational events still prove to be a positive asset for McKeesport and the surrounding communities.”

Shriner Clowns will perform, and the Lions will sponsor a car cruise on Sunday. Cars will line up around the Blue Top Pavilion at 5 p.m. and travel on Eden Park Boulevard to the show grounds at Schettino Field.

There is no cost, and classic car owners need only show up to participate.

Live entertainment performances start at 7 each night, with Billy Price kicking off the show on Saturday. The Four Townsmen will perform on Sunday, and Pure Gold will close the festival with the city's final “Concert in the Park” for the season on Monday. Zambelli fireworks display will follow.

Mayor Michael Cherepko said last year's rib fest was a success and he has high hopes for this one.

“The turnout is always hard to predict,” Cherepko said. “You need weather to cooperate and things like that. One thing I can assure you is our (recreation) board and the committee that puts together the rib fest, their efforts are very greatly appreciated. Volunteers come out and spend their time to try and make events like this a success.

“I'm just happy the city gets to provide another event to give people within and outside the city a reason to come to McKeesport.”

“Working together with the mayor, his administration, the parks department, the recreation board, the McKeesport Lions and countless volunteers has been a pleasure,” Carr said. “All involved seemed to me were proud to represent McKeesport, and I hope this pride is shared and enjoyed by our residents.”

Cherepko and city administrator Matt Gergely will judge the rib vendors.

“I'm looking forward to the experience,” Cherepko said. “If I had to pick my favorite food, it would be ribs. I'm looking for the taste, tenderness, and the sauce. When the ribs just fall off the bone, that's usually a good indication that the ribs are going to be very satisfying.”

City parks and recreation director Jim Brown said McKeesport had a rib festival at the park's Steven Barry Field from 2004-2007 before it was cut due to a lack of funding.

“We moved it from there to here because of the bandshell,” Brown said. “We thought it would be better scenery here than to have it where we just had big events like International Village. We've got the same amount of vendors (as last year). I don't see a big difference as far as food goes. Instead of traveling to Pittsburgh to eat ribs they can come straight here to McKeesport.”

Carr said attendance at McKeesport's festival should not be affected by the Coors Light Kickoff and Rib Festival at Heinz Field, noting McKeesport offers free admission and free parking.

“I don't think there is competition,” he said.

Carr highlighted other events that occurred earlier this year in McKeesport.

“I don't know of any city that has a free concert series scheduled every week for the summer or has an International Village as large as ours in the middle of the week,” Carr said. “Other highlights new to McKeesport this year were bringing a sanctioned bicycle road race and a Civil War encampment/re-enactment to Renzie Park.”

For more information about the festival, email Carr at 4dancarr@gmail.com.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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