The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Attendees enjoying ribs at last year’s Rock’n Ribfest. Photo credit Stacie Coburn.

Rock’ n Ribfest

When: Friday, June 17, from 4 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, June 19, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Anheuser-Busch, 221 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack
Cost: Admission costs $10 at the gate or $7 if purchased in advance online or at the Anheuser-Busch gift shop. Kids age 8 and under are admitted free. Sunday is Military Appreciation Day, when active military members and up to four of their family members are admitted free. Food, drinks and special events and activities are priced separately.
Special events/activities 
Taste of Ribfest
Sample ribs from all nine ribbers at a special tasting event on Friday night. Tickets are limited and only available to purchase online in advance. Cost is $60 each and includes a three-day pass to the festival. 
Beer Experience 
Includes a tasting of six microbrews, a tour of the Budweiser Brewmaster Mobile Unit and a photo op with the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale. Purchase onsite all weekend for $15. 
Main Stage Music 
Friday: Epic Season and Hunter. Saturday: Never Easy, Walkin The Line, Tom Dixon Band and Rory Scott Band. Sunday: Ben Knight and Mr. Nick & The Dirty Tricks. National anthem performed by Alan St. Louis each day.
Performer’s Stage 
Friday: Bedford Martial Arts Academy. Saturday: McGonagle School of Irish Dance, Belinda Bridgeman Academy of Dance, Peterborough Dance, FIRST Robotics, Broadway Bound Performing Arts Center. Sunday: Miss Kelsey’s Dance Studio and N-Step Dance Center. More performers TBD. 
Kids Area 
Features STEM demonstrations, model train displays, inflatable games and rides and more. Purchase a $10 wristband for full-day access, or purchase tickets for individual rides. 
RibRide 25/50 Bicycle Ride
25- and 50-mile bike rides through Nashua, Merrimack and Amherst on Saturday at 9 a.m. Registration costs $50 for the 25-mile ride and $65 for the 50-mile ride.  
Ribfest 5 Miler Road Race
Takes place Sunday at 9 a.m., with a kids’ 100-yard fun run at 8:45 a.m. Online registration costs $35 for adults, $25 for youth, $10 for kids under age 12. Race-day registration costs $40/$30/$10. Visit


Brews, tunes and barbecues
Rock’n Ribfest attracts barbecue enthusiasts near and far

By Angie Sykeny

 With nine pro “ribbers,” 40,000 attendees and a whole lot of barbecue sauce, Rock’n Ribfest returns to Anheuser-Busch, where, from Friday, June 17, through Sunday, June 19, the Merrimack brewery’s grounds will be transformed into a rib-lover’s paradise. 

This year’s festival welcomes nine professional barbecue vendors, known as “ribbers,” presenting half and whole racks of pork and beef ribs, brisket, pulled pork and other barbecue goodies. 
“They all offer their own style,” vendor coordinator Rick Herrick said. “There’s a St. Louis-style rib, some spicy ribs, and all kinds of variants of barbecue. Some do barbecue chicken, shrimp on the barbie, and one vendor does something called a ‘pig pile,’ which is a plate of french fries with pulled pork and a rib on top.” 
The ribbers come from all over the country, as close as Amherst and as far as Texas and Florida. For many of them, Rock’n Ribfest is one of numerous barbecue events they travel to every summer, and some have been regular participants since the festival began. Now in its 14th year, Ribfest has developed an atmosphere of friendly rivalry among returning attendees who pledge loyalty to their favorite vendors. 
“That’s part of the draw for this event,” Marketing Co-Chair Carol Powis said. “There’s people who love that one vendor’s special sauce or ribs’ taste more than the others, and they come back for it every year.” 
This year’s Ribfest will not include the BBQ State Competition as it has in the past, but ribbers will still be vying for the People’s Choice Award and Celebrity Choice Awards. The latter takes place prior to the festival and is judged by local radio and television personalities, athletes and other notables. The judges will choose the best pork ribs and best pulled pork based on aroma, juiciness, flavor and appearance. 
For those who want to take their Ribfest-ing to the next level, a limited number of tickets are available for the Taste of Ribfest, a special tasting event on Friday night allowing patrons exclusive access to the ribbers and two complimentary ribs from each. The tickets also cover admission for all three days of the festival. 
Craft beer buffs will appreciate the festival’s newest addition, the Beer Experience. It’s a tasting with a choice of six different microbrews served in four-ounce cups. There will be 12 unique varieties to pick from, some of which will be appearing in New Hampshire for the first time. The lineup features Anheuser-Busch’s own Demons Hop Yard IPA; an imperial stout, American amber and farmhouse ale by Goose Island Beer; Shock Top’s lemon shandy and Belgian wit cider; a nitro stout, IPA and American amber ale by Blue Point; and a Belgian blonde, Belgian wit and pilsner produced by Anheuser-Busch InBev in Belgium. In addition to the tasting, the Beer Experience also includes a tour of the Budweiser Brewmaster Mobile Unit with demonstrations of how beer is made, and photo opportunities with the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale. 
Plenty of non-barbecue festival fare will be available as well, such as gourmet baked potatoes, chicken and pork kabobs, fried clams, blooming onions and roasted sweet corn. There will also be sweets like homemade ice cream, cannolis, apple crisp and cake pops, and specialty beverages including gourmet coffees and fresh-squeezed lemonade. 
It wouldn’t be a Rock’n Ribfest without live music; performances will be ongoing throughout the weekend on the Main Stage. The secondary Performers Stage will feature family-friendly performances by local music, dance and martial arts groups. A kids area will have hot air balloon rides, inflatable games and attractions, and the Granite State Clowns will be entertaining and making custom balloon sculptures for guests. 
And, back for its second year, the RibRide 25/50 Bicycle Ride takes place Saturday morning. On Sunday morning, it’s the Ribfest 5 Miler Road Race.
Though Ribfest is much more than just a food festival, Herrick says it’s clear what the main attraction is. 
“It’s more than just one thing that draws people. There’s the beer products and entertainment and things for families,” he said. “But it’s called Ribfest. People come out for the ribs. That’s always on top as the biggest draw, by far.”
The festival is hosted by the Rotary Club of Nashua West to raise funds for over 40 local nonprofits. 

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