Dining With Denise Neil

A whole lotta ribbin' going on

My camera is still sticky from taking this picture. Not exactly sure how to solve that problem.Last night, I served as a judge at the Wichita Ribfest. I’m still a little sticky.

The judging was pretty serious. I wasn’t allowed to discuss the ribs with my co-judges as we sampled, and we didn’t know which ribs came from which booth. Ribfest organizers aren’t announcing the winner until Saturday. (So much for my plan to tell you which ribs to get if you go this weekend.)

The panel of judges, which also included Mayor Carl Brewer and Wichita Thunder assistant coach Jason Duda, was given two ribs from each of the six vendors to sample. I ate only half of each rib delivered, knowing I would need to pace myself to get to the end.My co-judges, who included Thunder assistant coach Jason Duda, left, and Mayor Carl Brewer.They were all different. Some were smoky. Some were sweet. All were sticky and saucy. The winner (I wish I knew who made it!!) was a basic rib with a nice glaze and a smoky flavor — refreshingly not oversauced.

The psychology of the Ribfest is pretty interesting so far. At lunch on Thursday, people all were lined up to get ribs at two booths while the other four booths had no lines at all. I stopped and asked a few people why they chose the line they chose, and all said they picked it because it was the longest so they assumed it must be the best. Another person said he chose the booth with the most championship flags. Though this logic seems faulty, there’s really no other way to decide which ribs to buy, I realized, so people were using the only information they had.

Meals cost between $7 and $10. Beers are $3 for a can or $4 for a cup.

The Wichita Ribfest continues from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today and Saturday. Live music is scheduled to go on all day both days. Admission is $4 or a Wichita River Festival button. Admission is only $2 if you go from1 1 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.

Country band Gloriana will headline tonight at 9 p.m. “American Idol” finalist Casey James plays at 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information and a complete lineup, visit the Wichita Ribfest website.