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Published June 12, 2011, 06:42 PM

RibFest Sets Attendance Record

Despite some less than ideal weather, this year’s RibFest was the biggest yet in terms of attendance.

By: John Lamb, Forum Communications

FARGO - Despite some less than ideal weather, this year’s RibFest was the biggest yet in terms of attendance.

Fargodome General Manager Rob Sobolik said the five-day food and entertainment festival drew 50,102 visitors in its 16th year.

Last year 45,779 passed through the gates.

“It seems RibFest has become a popular event to kick off the summer,” Sobolik said Sunday after the festival closed at 5.

Seven rib cookers were featured at the event, with Cowboy’s BBQ & Rib Company taking home the Critics’ Choice Award. Aussom Aussie’s BBQ won the People’s Choice Award for the second year in a row.

While the weather was cold and blowing as the event kicked off on Wednesday and raining Friday evening, Sobolik said about 17,800 came out on a nice Thursday, making it one of the best single days ever. About 11,000 came out after 5 p.m. Thursday. Sobolik credits that partially to the weather and partially to a concert by country singer Rodney Atkins, adding that Fargo is a “strong country market.”

While Sobolik said RibFest met the goal for 50,000 attendees, part of the weekend’s programming didn’t meet expectations.

Friday’s Montgomery Gentry show inside the Fargodome, while not technically part of the RibFest lineup, drew only about 2,500 people, despite tickets being only $20 and $25.

Sobolik said he wanted to try something different this year and while the indoor show didn’t draw well, he said the past five days overall were a success.

Lamb is a reporter at the Forum in Fargo

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