Not Even Rain Could Stop Ribs on The Ridge 2021
by James Coulter
Not even rain could keep people from celebrating the return of Ribs on the Ridge last Saturday in Haines City. After last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19, people were willing to ignore a little h20 so that they could enjoy some good old-fashioned barbecue.
Tim Malloy, the leader of the Backyard Bros team, wasn’t the least bit bothered by the occasional drizzle turned downpour. If anything, the rain deterred the otherwise smoldering summer heat.
“We actually like the rain,” Malloy said. “It kept it cool out here. If it were [sun on] the asphalt over there, it would have been 200 degrees.”
Of course, Tim and his team absolutely loved walking awayfrom this year’s event with the trophy and title of grand champion in the professional barbecue division. The Backyard Bros also received awards for pork, ribs, and brisket.
This is the 10th grand champion title they received in the past five years. This year was also the second time they won Ribs on the Ridge, the annual barbecue competition in Haines City.
Malloy recalled six years ago when they first competed in the backyard division. Now they had the privilege of walking away with the top prize in the professional division.
“I made it a point of this being our favorite contest,” he said. “We just love the competition. We have a great time. These are our families out here.”
Backyard Bros won the title of Grand Champion, and the title of Grand Reserve went to Double Barrel Smokers from Lakeland. As for their secret, they owe their success to the tips they received from their mentor, Jim Elser of Sweet Smoke BBQ.
This was their fourth year competing in the contest. Even with the rain that afternoon, they loved being able to participate regardless. Of course, winning cash is always a plus, said team leader Jerry Addison.
“Any time we barbecue is a great time,” he said. “Haines City always does a great job. It is well-organized. Everyone is well-taken care of. The teams come around and take care of us. We are in need of nothing out there.”
This Saturday saw the return of Thunder on the Ridge to Haines City. Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19. This year’s event made an epic comeback by being hosted the same weekend as the city’s Fourth of July Celebration, Thunder on the Ridge.
Several dozen vendors set up on the lawn of Lake Eva Park. Barbecue teams from across the county and even the state arrived to compete in the backyard or professional division, in categories including chicken, brisket, pork, and ribs.
Obviously, the event experienced some hiccups due to the inclement weather. But not even the rain could stop attendees from enjoying the return of a city favorite.
“The event has been awesome,” said Lindsasia Johansmeyer, Special Events Supervisor. “We are thankful for all of the vendors for coming out…[and] our teams, they stuck it out through the day, continued to compete, turn in all of our stuff, and then all the vendors stuck around.”