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Brandon McCall prepares ribs at the Blazing Bronco BBQ Co. tent during Ribfest 2017. The company from Cleveland was the judge's choice as Ground Zero Best of Show.

It’s Ribfest time again.

Thursday through Aug. 18, the Annual Nebraska Pork Producers Capital Ribfest will return to Lincoln for the 22nd time, and the fifth at the festival space north of Pinnacle Bank Arena after 17 years outside Pershing Auditorium.

Seven vendors will provide ribs, pulled pork, briskets and other fixings to the thousands who come to the three-day event, Lincoln’s largest festival each year, and will compete for the Ground Zero Best of Show award, which will be presented Thursday.

Six of the barbecue teams are Ribfest returnees: Aussom Aussie, Sydney, Australia; BBQ King Smokehouse, Woodstock, Illinois, Blazing Bronco BBQ Co., Cleveland, Ohio; Desperado’s BBQ & Rib Co., Hinckley, Ohio; Howling Coyote Southwestern BBQ, Chicago; and Johnson’s BBQ, Chesapeake, Virginia.

New this year is Fine Smoke BBQ of Westerville, Ohio, which last month took the “best ribs” award at Erie, Pa.’s Wild Rib Cook Off and Music Festival, narrowly edging Blazing Bronco, which took the Ground Zero Best of Show award last year. Fine Smoke and Blazing Bronco tied for the best sauce prize at the Erie show.

As always, Ribfest will provide music each day. Evan Bartels & the Stoney Lonesomes will top the Thursday lineup and the Emmett Bower Band will close the stage Friday.

Saturday will feature the return of Here Come The Mummies, the bandage-wrapped funk band made up of some of Nashville’s top studio musicians, which has been among the most popular bands to have played Ribfest.

And, continuing another popular feature, there will be free admission and free sides from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Thursday and Aug. 17, with a can of food for the Lincoln Food Bank as suggested admission.

Here’s the lowdown on the festival:

When: Thursday Aug. 16 to Saturday, Aug. 18

Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena Festival Space

Tickets: $5 at the gate. Free for kids 18 and under. Free admission 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 16 and 17

Parking: Festival Parking Lot, $5; Haymarket Parking Garages, $5 or on the street

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 16; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 17 and 18


Thursday, Aug. 16

11:30 a.m. — Chris Sayre

5 p.m. — Diamond Empire

7 p.m. — Evan Bartels & The Stoney Lonesomes

Friday, Aug. 17

11:30 a.m. — John Walker

5 p.m. — Mike Semrad & The River Hawks

7 p.m. — Lloyd McCarter & The Honky Tonk Revival

9 p.m. — Emmett Bower Band

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Saturday, Aug. 18

7 p.m. — AM/FM

9 p.m. — Here Come The Mummies


Aussom Aussie, Sydney, Australia

BBQ King Smokehouse, Woodstock, Ill.

Blazing Bronco BBQ Co. Cleveland, Ohio

Desperado’s BBQ & Rib Co., Hinckley, Ohio

Fine Smoke BBQ, Westerville, Ohio

Howling Coyote Southwestern BBQ, Chicago

Johnson’s BBQ, Chesapeake, Va.

Best places for BBQ in Lincoln

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or

On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.


Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott is an entertainment reporter and columnist.

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