As people cheered and snapped photos, nine men and one woman took their seats along a table under a tent at Dwight Murray Plaza before grabbing the first ribs at Saturday’s annual rib eating contest during the annual Blues, Brews & BBQ in downtown Napa.
Within minutes, Darren Turbeville of the Toy B Ville store, winner of the 2011 and 2012 contests, was leading the pack, eating rib after rib and not leaving a speck of meat on the bones.
“Keep it going! Keep it going!” Bounty Hunter executive chef Will Wright, who prepared 100 pounds of ribs for the event, hollered into a microphone as the 10 contestants tried to eat as many of his chipotle-seasoned ribs as possible within 10 minutes.
About five minutes later, Turbeville became the clear winner, having eaten 35 ribs — an event record.
As he grabbed his new trophy, Turbeville said that it was his personal best. But the 36-year-old store owner was not about to skip dinner. “I’ll be hungry again,” he said, laughing, as he posed for photographs.
The afternoon event, sponsored by the Napa Downtown Association, also featured plenty of microbrew beers and barbecue. Hundreds of beer lovers packed the beer garden on Coombs Street to taste beers from 30 craft breweries. People paid $20 for seven tasting tickets from Anchor Brewing, Lagunitas, Angry Orchard and others.
“Everyone here wants to try out all the beers,” said Joey Wolf, area sales manager for 21st Amendment Brewery of San Francisco, as people lined up in front of the craft brewery’s pop-up tent.
Gene Aber and Bobbi Witten of Napa said they love the event.
“The crowds get larger. There is more beer. The music is absolutely to die for,” said Aber, 73, as the Lara Price Band played on the stage on Coombs Street.
Amanda Grice, 35, a nursing student, volunteered at Saturday’s event. “I love it. It’s a great event for downtown,” she said.
Cynthia Zamudio, 28, and Mario Sanchez, 26 of San Francisco said they love barbecue, beer and blues.
“It seemed like a perfect combination,” said Zamudio, as she drank a beer from 21st Amendment Brewery.
Kya Cain and her boyfriend, McClean Obichere, of Mountain House enjoyed the atmosphere and the barbecue. “It’s just a fun place to be,” said Obichere, 34, who brought a cooler large enough to bring home enough barbecue for the week.