More then 200 rib lovers put away 400 pounds of juicy pork ribs June 22, while contributing to the ongoing maintenance and operational expenses of the Oakhurst Community Center. The Rib Fest is the sole annual fundraiser for the community center put on by the board.
Oakhurst Elks Lodge, Last year's winning team, lost their title of "Best Ribs" to the Oakhurst Sierra Lions Club. The Elks were the runner-ups.
The winning team was made up of head chef Chris Baker, his son Adrian, and club members Don and Jan Kieffer, Bill and Jennie Flaherty, Doug Kleist, Steve and Dixie Wade, and Angelo and Stella Pizelo.
"This is our club's third year competing and after placing third twice, I feel the difference between this year and last is I improved my dry rub and basted the ribs with a special, secret sauce," Baker said. "I applied the rub the day before and then smoked the ribs at low heat for six hours."
Baker said the Lions Club team had a blast at the event and were happy to help the community center with their major fundraiser of the year.
"The win was especially nice as I'm ending my term as club president after two years," Baker said.
Incoming president is Stella Pizelo, taking over July 1.
"We thought our ribs were just as good as the previous year," Dennis Huff, exalted ruler of Elks Lodge 2724, said. "We feel last year we raised the bar and everyone stepped-it up this year. We turned out a good product, but so did everyone else. We'll pull out all the stops next year to get the title back."
The ribs were judged on appearance, tenderness, and most importantly, taste by California Highway Patrol officer Jay Adams, Madera County Sheriff's deputy Neil Cuthbert and Jim Lowry, a retired Simi Valley police officer. Judges tasted ribs from buckets numbered one through five, not knowing what service club's ribs they were tasting.
Seth Allen, 7, said ribs are one of his favorite foods and "these ribs are delicious."
Sitting next to Allen was his friend Logan Beaumont, 7, who agreed with Allen's assessment of the ribs.
"After cheeseburgers, ribs are my favorite food to eat I'm the rib monster in my family and these ribs are great."
The three other teams in the friendly competition were Oakhurst Sunrise Rotary Club, Kiwanis, and Oakhurst Sierra Rotary (noon) Club.
The annual fundraising event raised $14,000 for the continued maintenance and operation of the community center.
In addition to dinner tickets sold, a live auction and raffle raised $2,700 with an additional $1,500 coming from beverages and a 50-50 raffle.
"This year's Rib Fest turned out to be one of the most successful that we have had and we want to thank everyone in the community who turned out to support the event and the community center," Dale Miller, president of the community center board of directors said.
Miller also thanked the five service clubs that participated in the rib competition and the generous contributions of many sponsors including Sierra Tel, Sullivan Tire Pros, Yosemite Bank, Tenaya Lodge and Miller's Landing Resort.
Two young couples from Germany attended the event after seeing a flyer at Comfort Inn & Suites.
"To show our American hospitality, we bought their dinner," Miller said. "When we invited them on stage to be introduced, the girls teared-up."
Helping serve the dinner were members of Scout Troop 341 and Yosemite High Leos Club.