BY LINDSAY MCCOY

Times Bulletin News Writer

lmccoy@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - The Sixth Annual Van Wert Rib Fest draws a lot of people each year. Unfortunately, for the last two years it has also drawn storms.

"The crowd was great, but unfortunately the weather got us again," said Van Wert Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Larry Lee. "For the second year in a row, our feature band did not get a chance to go on stage, but considering the threatening weather, clearing the grounds was the right thing to do."
Even with the early evening storm, a nice crowd enjoyed an afternoon of music, games, and of course, ribs.

This year's People's Choice winners in the rib competition were Manley Meats of Decatur in first place, Gibson's Barnyard BBQ from Convoy in second, and Pork Brothers BBQ from Lima in third.

In the Best Ribs category, the judges selected Manley Meats as their first place winner, followed by JAV's from Ottawa and Shigs in Pit of Fort Wayne. Best Sauce winners were JAV's in first place, Timmy's BBQ from Garrett, IN in second, and Manley Meats in third place. Judges for this years event included Al Saylor, Eric Hurless, Judge Jill Leatherman, Ron Burt, and former judge Rex Fortney.

On behalf of the Rib Fest Committee, Lee thanked all of the 2012 sponsors which included Citizens National Bank, Century Link, Time Warner Cable, Iberdrola Renewables, First Federal Savings and Loan, K & L Ready Mix, First Bank of Berne, Scott Equity Exchange, First Financial Bank, Walmart Foundation, C & G Distributing, BP Wind Energy, Cooper Farms, Stahl Stoller Meyer Insurance Group, Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Purmort Brothers Insurance, Van Wert Manor, WERT/WKSD, Store & Haul, Wallace Plumbing & Heating, Dedicated Fleet Logistics, Young's Waste Service, Lee's ACE Hardware, as well as Cindy Mollenkopf, Nancy Dixon, Gary Adams, Martha Balyeat, Bev Furest, Clair Dudgeon, Kim Hughes, and Jeanne Zeigler. He also thanked everyone who came out and enjoyed the event.

The Rib Fest organizing committee met on Thursday morning and began making plans for an even better 2013 event. Lee noted that increasing the number of bands was a plus this year, and the committee is hoping to repeat this next year with a variety of local bands involved. Nothing is finalized with planning only in preliminary stages since the 2012 event just concludedng, but the committee is already looking at bands for the lead event next year. Committee member and County Commissioner Thad Lichtenstieger pointed out that the lead band may be more successful at this event if the performance starts earlier while people are eating and enjoying the activities of the festival.

The organizing committee also focused their attention on things that went well and things that could have gone better. Lichtenstieger noted that the weather is also a wild card each year. While the rain hindered business at the event in the late afternoon hours on Saturday, weather insurance was taken out for the event. This was the fourth year weather insurance was taken out for this event, but this was the first year that there was enough rain to collect on this investment.

"It is important to protect ourselves," said Lee. "This insurance was very helpful and is wise for any festival."

A festival such as the Rib Fest can cost approximately $27,000 to put together. While $1,000 may seem like a lot of money to insure a two-day event, a small rain can be costly to the event.

To collect on the insurance a total rainfall of 0.25 inches needed to be measured. Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy was happy to tell event coordinators that they received 0.26 inches of rain; just one one-hundredth of an inch more than they needed to qualify for an insurance claim. Nearly $9,000 was collected in insurance on the storms that past through during the event that caused many people to evacuate the premises. Just paying the lead band, whom never played, cost $3,500. Lee noted that the collected sum will easily be used up merely to cover the loss in ticket and other sales.

After two consecutive years of rain at the Rib Fest, Lee is sure that rain insurance will be taking out on next year's event to cover any possible losses to the large and costly event.