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Licking it all up at Rib Fest

Rib Fest and More always dishes up savory food that sticks to your fingers, but the annual festival has made a point of adding music that's just as catchy to the ears.

Rib Fest and More always dishes up savory food that sticks to your fingers, but the annual festival has made a point of adding music that's just as catchy to the ears.

The annual celebration of slathered sauces on slabs of meat delivers family-sized side dishes of rock and country nuggets this Wednesday through Saturday.

"The bands we get are going to get people out to have a good time," says Rob Sobolik, general manager of the Fargodome.

That's how he describes Johnny Holm's audiences. The singer is a longtime staple of the regional music scene and always draws a crowd, Sobolik says.

He was less certain about Rick Springfield when the 1980s' heartthrob's name popped up in planning meetings for the 2004 Ribfest. Once he remembered hits like "Jesse's Girl," "I've Done Everything for You" and "Don't Talk to Strangers," Sobolik was sold.


Springfield drew the biggest crowd, packing in 10,500 after 5 p.m. at last year's event. Sobolik says the average crowd is closer to 8,000.

The Aussie singer is back this Thursday with Fargo rockers Holiday opening.

Friday's show starts with locals davis? and ends with Joan Jett, the Grande Dame of snarling three-chord rock, including the anthems, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," "Bad Reputation" and "Do You Wanna Touch Me?"

"The audience is just going to love her," says Anne Phibian, member of the Morning Gang on Froggy 99.9, which is part of Go Radio, a sponsor of Rib Fest.

The DJ saw Jett twice, first a decade ago and then again a few years back.

"She has so much energy. She's one of these artists who has the ability to sound just like her record," Phibian says. "She looks and sounds incredible. She's aged amazingly well."

For Saturday, Sobolik was looking for an up and coming country act to balance the bill, but most performers were booked for Nashville's Fan Fair festival. Ironically, one of the bands available was Fargo's own 32 Below, which moved to Music City last year. The group closes out Rib Fest, followed by a fireworks display. Icebreaker opens the show.

Phibian says 32 Below's star is rising and Froggy already plays three of the group's songs, "Make a Little Noise," "The Devil in Me" and "Watch You for Hours."


Family entertainment and activities accentuate the finger-licking dining experience supplied by eight national barbecue joints and toe-tapping concerts.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Kids Fest is the main course for family entertainment. The event includes rides and activities from Games to Go, animals from the Red River Zoo and performances by Penny and Pals as well as Valentine's Performing Pigs, which have appeared on the "Late Show With David Letterman."

"Everyone is looking for something to do in the community and this is good, affordable family entertainment," Fargodome Sales & Marketing Manager Kris Packer says.

Lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday through Friday include free admission, parking and two free side dishes with every dinner.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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