Firefighters Wanted For Rib Eating Contest

VERNON — Volunteer firefighters from across the region are wanted to partake in a Rib Eating Contest on May 12 to help kickoff the upcoming Rock, Ribs & Ridges music and food festival.

Festival organizers are seeking 12 fire departments to enter one firefighter each for the contest to see who can eat a full rack of ribs the fastest. The winner’s firehouse will receive $500 courtesy of Franklin Sussex Auto Mall, the festival’s presenting sponsor, with the individual winner receiving a pair of general admission tickets to the Rock, Ribs & Ridges festival at The Hidden Valley Club in Vernon on June 9-10.

Each participating firehouse will receive $100 and the individual contestants will each receive one free general admission ticket to the festival.

The contest is free and will take place on Saturday, May 12 at 3 p.m. at the Franklin Sussex Auto Mall located at 315 Route 23 North in Sussex.

The dealership will also be giving away a flat screen television to one lucky person in the audience as firefighters’ friends, families and the general public are invited to this event, which will also feature a Southern rock band, free barbecue, games and prizes.

Eric Figueroa of the Double S Diner in Sussex will once again supply the ribs for the contest. He won the juried rib cook-off for “Best Ribs” and “Best Sauce” at last year’s Rock, Ribs & Ridges festival. Figueroa is rebuilding the popular eatery following a devastating fire that closed the restaurant last spring and plans to defend his titles at this year’s festival in June.

Hunter Space of the Beemerville Fire Company in Wantage won last year’s inaugural contest, downing a full rack of ribs in 4 minutes 50 seconds. The volunteer firehouse used the $500 prize to purchase new gear for the department.

Rock, Ribs & Ridges is a two-day celebration of great music from legendary artists, finger lickin’ good food and the scenic beauty of the spectacular, natural amphitheater located at the foothills of The Hidden Valley Club ski resort in Vernon. This year’s festival is June 9-10 and features concerts from Grammy Award winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artists Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers and Artimus Pyle of Lynyrd Skynyrd plus Molly Hatchet, New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Georgia Satellites, CB Radio and Cabinet.

Barbecue fans will have the opportunity to enjoy mouthwatering BBQ throughout the weekend. They will be equally excited by the juried rib cook-off, which features award-winning offerings from renowned chefs and local rib cooks who will compete for thousands of dollars in prize money and the coveted titles of “Best Ribs” and “Best Sauce.” Festival-goers can vote for a “People’s Choice” award.

To enter the rib eating contest, volunteer fire companies should contact Brett Matak at 1-973-882-5464 ext. 12 or via email to

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