Park Ridge’s Vine Street BBQ competition, festival brings in $18,000 and counting to area charities

On the streets surrounding Hodges Park in Park Ridge’s Uptown, smoke drifted through the air on an otherwise cool and somewhat rainy day Saturday.

Despite the smoke, firetrucks were not needed for the return of the Vine Street BBQ festival and competition. This time around, 40 teams competed for coveted prizes of best ribs, best chicken, best sauce and best dish.

The festival and competition is still fairly new to Park Ridge, with four friends organizing the first one in 2017. Jamie Rubin, one of the organizers, said the friends are still connected through their team, “Silence of the Hams,” but compete in other competitions.

With the total amount of money to be raised still being counted, Rubin said they have been able to raise $18,000 for The Cancer Survivorship Center of Advocate Lutheran General, Avenues to Independence and The Maine Township Food Pantry. Last year’s competition raised $42,000.

Josh Piazza, part of the Pig Floyd team, said Matt Colleran was “the real pro” behind the operation the team set up on Courtland Avenue. Along with the two, the team included Pat O’Brien and Ralph Barganski.

The team members, all from Park Ridge, participate as coaches for the Park Ridge Falcons. Colleran said they have been participating in the competition for four years, when he decided to up his game with his Lone Star Grillz offset smoker.

Together, the team cooked ribs, chicken, and a beef tenderloin with lime cilantro garlic corn as their best dish. Colleran said he has participated exclusively for the Vine Street competition with his offset smoker, in part because its large size makes it hard to haul to barbecue festivals outside of town.

“It’s a fun event; everybody gets together to eat food and enjoy each other’s company,” said Colleran.

The team’s name comes from an appreciation of the band Pink Floyd, said Colleran. Other teams had creative names with barbecue puns and jokes intertwined with pop culture references, such as South Pork, SmoQued on Main St. and Que’s Your Daddy?

Unofficial scores show Saturday’s big winner was MakDaddyBBQ, barely beating out Schmack Q by decimal points awarded by the judges.

Miami Heat and Hillbilly Deluxe won Best Chicken and Best Ribs, respectively. Tricky Pig won Best Sauce, and Bacon and Hockey Podcast won Best Dish with a perfect score.