2021 Best of the West Ribfest
By Jessie Veeder Scofield
One of the biggest events in Western North Dakota takes place on Main Street Watford City and it’s going to be better than ever this year with the announcement that Grammy Award Winning country artist Wynonna Judd will be taking the stage to help celebrate the 2021 Best of the West Ribfest, Street Fair and Classic Car show set for August 13, 2021.
As one-half of the legendary mother/daughter duo "The Judds," Wynonna was once dubbed by Rolling Stone as "the greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline." This iconic performer has received over 60 industry awards, with countless charting singles, including 20 No.1 hits such as "Mama He's Crazy," "Why Not me," and "Grandpa, (Tell Me 'Bout The Good Ole Days)." Respected by the millions of fans who are drawn to her music and undeniable talent, Wynonna's rich and commanding voice has sold over 30-million albums worldwide spanning her remarkable 34-year career.
With the pandemic putting a halt on many social and community events in 2020, the public is more than ready to gather on the street and celebrate summer with a tradition that has become a favorite since it began nearly 20 years ago. The idea was to create a Main Street event that would draw traffic on the way to Sturgis, and so Main Street businesses pulled out their grills, lined up local entertainment, and got cooking. Since then, the event, as well as attendance, keeps growing, with the 2019 celebration drawing over 5,000 people to the street.
Hosted by the Watford City Chamber of Commerce and supported by Watford City Tourism, the City of Watford City and numerous local sponsors, the chamber prides itself on creating a high-quality event that enhances life for the local community as well as draws participants and audience members from across the state.
“The announcement of Wynonna’s performance has people in the community as well as across the region excited,” said Mary Gumke, Watford City’s Chamber Director and Ribfest Chair. “This is big news for Watford City and we’re expecting a record turnout.”
And because of the past success of the Best of the West Ribfest, which started adding national headliners to the agenda in 2016, many people mark the date on their calendars and plan to stay home for the weekend or travel to Watford to enjoy the concert and all that Watford City and the surrounding area has to offer.
“Ribfest is one of our biggest tourism-based events,” said Doug Bolken with McKenzie County Tourism. “We help promote it throughout the year as a great reason to visit Watford City, catch a great event, stay the weekend and enjoy the sights, local restaurants and shopping while you’re here.”
The event kicks off with a fundraising breakfast for the local Boy Scouts served on Main Street from 8-10 am. The Street Fair opens at 10 am with lunch being served at 11 am and rib teams cooking up ribs on the street all day, serving them to the public at 6 pm.
And as always, the Best of the West Ribfest, Street Fair and Classic Car Show is free and open to the public, with team games, a kids’ inflatables and game zone, face painting and more fun throughout the day. Back again this year is the option for guests to purchase a VIP Ticket where they can enjoy drinks and ribs under the shade of the Jones Contractors VIP tent and also score the best seats in the house for the evening concert. New this year is a cornhole tournament hosted by Watford City Parks and Rec. And, in honor of the small rib teams that started this event, the Chamber is hosting a Backyard BBQ Contest where small teams of two are invited to get in on the action.
“If you have the best ribs in town, but only a small grill, this contest is for you,” said Gumke. “We’re inviting the public to judge and giving out cash prizes for the best!”
During the day you can grab lunch downtown, shop unique vendors and Main Street Businesses and enjoy music from local musicians on the side stage. Matt Aakkre and the Dirty Little Secret kicks off the evening on the Main Stage with a concert at 6 pm before Wynonna’s performance at 8 pm.
And plan to stick around after Wynona because you’re not going to want to miss the Party after Dark when the Ikons of Rock, Snake Oil, will be taking the stage for an epic tribute to rock. Dressing up is encouraged!
“We’re so excited to be able to bring such big acts to Main Street this year,” said Mary Gumke with the Watford City Chamber. “We are thankful to our chamber members and sponsors for making this event bigger and better each year and for allowing us to offer these high-quality concerts for free to our community.”
For a full schedule, to purchase your VIP Tickets and to sign up as a Ribfest vendor or contestant visit https://www.watfordcityribfest.com