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Local

Downtown Sycamore taken over by annual Ribs, Rhythm and Brews Fest

Hicks BBQ in Rochelle takes home top prize

Cortland resident Kris Wojtowycz enjoys a serving of  ribs at the annual Ribs, Rhythm and Brews, held Saturday in downtown Sycamore.
Cortland resident Kris Wojtowycz enjoys a serving of ribs at the annual Ribs, Rhythm and Brews, held Saturday in downtown Sycamore.

SYCAMORE – Bragging rights were at stake Saturday at the annual Ribs, Rhythm and Brews Fest in downtown Sycamore.

People took to the streets to get a taste of the event and what it offers.

“Surprisingly, this year when the bands were warming up earlier around 3 o’clock, we had people bringing their chairs,” said RoseMarie Treml, executive director for the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce. “They’re getting their spot.”

The fest has grown over the past year, and portions of downtown area traffic were rerouted to allow the event to take up two lots instead of one.

“This is the biggest crowd I’ve seen in the last five or six years,” Treml said. “It’s all ages. I see young couples, the kids and older people.”

Cortland resident Reece Bean said he was enjoying his time and the ribs.

“My favorite dish is the ribs,” he said. “I love small portions of rib.
The slabs of ribs are great, too. It all depends on what sides come with. Some have corn. Some have baked potato. It’s delicious.”

Bean said he considers himself a big fan of barbecuing.

“I’m a bone man,” he said. “I am barbecuing next weekend for my 3-year-old granddaughter. I love barbecuing.”

Bean had prepared two takeout bags to take some home and customize them.

“I’m going to doctor these up with Sweet Baby Ray’s,” he said.

Elsewhere at the event, Forge Brewhouse made sure to keep brews flowing for people.

Diann Beaulieu, the owner of Tom and Jerry’s Restaurant, said she takes pride in being part of Ribs, Rhythm and Brews. She said it took about four days to prepare for the event. Last year Tom and Jerry’s took home the top prize.

“We do a lot of gyros and beef, but we started specializing in ribs,” Beaulieu said.“We feature them every Thursday.”

Beaulieu credits the appeal of the restaurants’ ribs to the sauce.

“We have a special preparation method,” she said.

Batavia resident Ann Donohue sat at a table with her husband, mingling over ribs. She said that the drive to Sycamore is always worth it.

“We’re a half-hour out, but we come back to Sycamore for Pumpkin Fest and the parade,” she said.

This year was Donohue’s first time dropping in for Ribs, Rhythm and Brews.

“It’s been very fun,” she said. “It’s got a reggae-feel to it. I listen to everything. It’s nice to eat food and hear music in the background.”

Three judges presided over the rib cooking competition, evaluating a quarter slab of ribs from each of the participating vendors.

Each dish was numbered to help disguise which vendors’ ribs are which.

Treml said local restaurants and vendors are excited to compete year after year.

“Tom and Jerry’s has their trophies out,” she said, turning to reference the restaurant’s staging area.

The Sycamore Chamber of Commerce awarded a trophy this time to Hicks BBQ in Rochelle for winning the cooking competition.

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