I was in the Akron/Cleveland Ohio area this holiday weekend. From 7/1-4 there was a Rib and Music Festival in Downtown Akron. There was a $6 charge to enter for charity (MDA, I think) and then it was like a street fair except the food vendors were all (main dish-wise, anyway 'cause there were the usual corn on the cob, funnel cakes and custard folks) BBQ!! There were 4 of us hungry for Q so we tried from about 5 different vendors. They were all really different. Some more smoky, some more sweet, some smaller and falling off the bone, others huge and meaty. ALL WERE YUMMY IN THEIR OWN WAY!! Prices were great - almost every stand had a taster - about $2-3 for 2-3 ribs; a half slab - around $8; and a full slab - around $12. Most places would add a side of beans and slaw for a $1 and had various sauces to try - most of them for sale by the jar too.
The vendors all seemed to be a part of a BBQ crowd that travels to competitions and festivals all over the country. They had huge displays of their awards around their enormous stalls. It was great fun and great food and I highly recommend you find these folks at their next gig...wish I could tell you where. I'll bet there's a BBQ website that would tell you...
The one in Akron is an annual tradition we were told. We ended up in Akron because two of my buddies in Chicago wanted to get together with us and we live in NYC. We decided that Akron is halfway - we each do a 7 hr drive instead of a killer 14 hour drive. It worked beautifully and we had a great time. Found a great wood-fired steak joint right off of I-77 on Arlington Road too - really yummy and perfectly cooked filets and strips just under $15!!!
Also, the largest natural food store in Ohio is in Akron, the Mustard Seed. Really nice store - found one of my favorite Oregon Pinot Noirs (Willamette Valley VIneyards)there!
P.S. Don't eat at the Gund Arena in Cleveland - the NY Liberty losing to the CLeveland ROckers was bad, but not as bad as the grilled chicken sandwich...yuk
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