Unfortunately, I only had ribs from one of the pit masters. The festival sells "sampler" tickets, which allow you to taste a rib sample from each booth, but apparently they ran out on the first day of the festival. And since ribs are expensive and I'm not a Rockefeller, I couldn't afford to buy 10 half racks of ribs. So, I ended up at this stop:
You gotta love their sign: "I'm from Texas. What country are y'all from?" Anyway, Texas Thunder appealed to me because, as I mentioned, they had beef ribs, which I've wanted to try. (Texans have very peculiar ideas about barbecue and ribs being beef rather than pork, which challenge my North Carolina sensibilities.) And I have to say, beef is very good. I still prefer pork, but beef will do in a pinch.
The particular beef I had from Texas Thunder was very good. It was a little fattier than I'm used to in ribs. But, frankly, the fat adds to the flavor, so I'm not complaining too much. I also thought there was a hint of an excellent rub or sauce that I felt they could have been heavier with. My taste buds wanted a little more. Overall, though, still quite good.
A few other stops I wanted to make were Carolina Rib King (Spartanburg, S.C.):
Porky Chicks (Fayeteville, Ark.):
And Big Boned BBQ (Hixson, Tenn):
Check out those trophies!
This year's winner, however, (because the ribfest is also a competition) was the local Bib's Downtown. I look forward to trying them out soon--and without having to pay an admission price!
For a more comprehensive rundown of each pit master at this year's festival/competition, check out The "Q" Review. And I'm not sure if the BBQ Jew will have a review up this year or not, but he was a judge at last year's ribfest and wrote about it here.
So, would I recommend Twin City Ribfest? No, not until they can get better organized and offer more for admission. Would I recommend beef ribs? That's a firm "yes." They're different, but they're still very good. At least Texas Thunder's were.