ELDON— For Eldon residents, nothing screamed summer more than their rib-cook offs.

For 13 years, residents have cooked their ribs outside and enjoyed a drink or two while they prepared to turn in their ribs. Residents of all ages came together at the fairgrounds to enjoy ribs, pie, live music and fellowship.

Residents were not the only ones who enjoyed themselves. The 22 participants in the rib-cook off enjoyed engaging in friendly competition with friends and acquaintances.

“It’s more about getting people together and having a good time,” Ryan Kern, a rib-cook off participant said.

One may have expected strict rules for cooking or the presentation, but the rules were relaxed and judges only judged on the tenderness of the ribs. Participants were able to make their ribs however they wanted. Many took three to four hours to make their ribs.

Kern used three different rubs and a light coat of barbeque sauce. “I always go for the sweet and buy it from stores who specialize in people participating in competitions,” Kern said.

Normally Kern’s brother cooked with him, but this year both wanted to be pitted against each other. “We’ve cooked before and I’ve beat him, we are split 50-50,” Kern said. “It’s fun and it makes for good bragging rights.”

Another rib-cook off regular was Aaron Cloke. For three years in a row, he won the rib-cook off. “It’s a good feeling to win,” Cloke said. Cloke didn’t just participant in the cook-off to win, but to also enjoy the fellowship. “It’s a good family atomposhere type,” Cloke said, “everybody having fun.”

There were not only regular rib-cook off participants, but also some first-timers.

First-timer Randy Burell enjoyed the people and commodity. “It’s something different,” Burell said, “The weather and people have been my favorites. It’s been great to get out of the norm and think outside the box.”

Brain Kesling, another first timer enjoyed the cook-off because he enjoyed making ribs and seeing his friends cook. “I enjoyed the sense of community and doing what I love,” Kesling said.

Kesling enjoyed himself, but also encouraged more people to come to the fair. “More people from Ottumwa and surrounding areas should have came. You really do enjoy the fellowship with others and get to eat your heart out.”

— Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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