Labor Day weekend kicks off with Rib America Fest - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Labor Day weekend kicks off with Rib America Fest

The 'Wham' turbo cooker The 'Wham' turbo cooker

Indianapolis - Be it boating or a backyard barbecue, Hoosiers have no excuse to be bored this Labor Day holiday.

The weekend began with the Rib America Fest in Military Park Friday, where many people followed their noses for lunch.

"You gotta check it out," said Rib America Fest attendee Greg Main. "It's not just the ribs, it's the whole atmosphere, the music and just a very good time."

Jon Bigalk of Willingham's World Champion BBQ was offering succulent dry-rub ribs to punters. "What makes our Memphis-style barbecue special, we serve our ribs dry. We have our dry rubs and we do sprinkle a little on top of the ribs. We flip it over and let the dry rub caramelize. It's the best taste and tenderness that anybody can have at the Rib Fest," he claimed.

It might just be tasty to patrons, but grilling out is a seriously competitive business. Willingham's has won 187 awards and is going for a grand slam this year, having won in St. Louis and Des Moines.

Bigalk explains that he cooks the meat in a specially-designed turbo cooker invented in Memphis, Tennessee by his uncle, John Willingham. The original is on display in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

This year's music headliners include Pat Benetar, Hootie and the Blowfish, Beatlemania, The Benders, Dave & Rae and more. As an addition to the music, local students will benefit from concertgoers.

"This year, we're tied into the hootie and the blowfish foundation, along with IUPUI's backpack attack," said Rib America Fest's Andy Wilson. "We're encouraging everyone that comes down to bring a school supply. Bring more than one if you want. Basically, it's a help fill the bus campaign."

See the complete Rib America Fest schedule

If you're into speed, the oldest and largest event of the National Hot Rod Association tears down the dragstrip at O'Reilly Raceway Park.

"I've been to a lot of different tracks, a lot of different drag races and this is by far the largest drag race period, bar none," said race fan Mike Campbell.

The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals takes place through Monday. 

For a quieter time, the Marsh Symphony on the Prairie is expecting excellent weather for the season's fireworks finale. More flash in the sky happens Saturday night at White River State Park, with fireworks choreographed to music at downtown's Sky Concert.

Indy Alive - Check out other events in central Indiana for the weekend.

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