The barbecue equivalent of a rock star is making its comeback during the Ribfest portion of River Roots Live.
"The biggest news on the rib front is that Desperado's is making a triumphant return," said Kyle Carter, DavenportOne's marketing director. "They've won more awards than any other vendor we've ever had through the many years of Ribfest."
The Hinckley, Ohio-based vendor, best known for its "Lick My Ribs" marketing campaign, has been absent from the Quad-Cities the past few years.
The former River Rockin' Ribfest, which began in 1999, was incorporated with River Roots Live in 2007.
The number of vendors has increased this year with the addition of Big Boned Barbeque, a New England-based cookerie. National rib vendors returning are Willingham's World Champion BBQ, Chicago BBQ Co., Texas Thunder BBQ and Family Ties BBQ. The Quad-City region is represented by Steve's Meat Shop, Montpelier, Iowa, and Jim's Rib Haven, Rock Island.
Unlike last year, when a move downtown and eliminating the admission fee meant more people at the rib stands, there will be plenty to eat, Carter said.
"They're also going to be more prepared," he added.
Vendors generally count on their numbers from the previous year in making plans.
"We just destroyed our attendance record last year, so now they're prepared for that level of crowds, so they're bringing more staff, more food, bigger rigs," Carter said. "The preparedness of the rib vendors is infinitely greater.
"The free admission just knocked the walls down on these rib vendors. They were very thrilled by that, but they were as unhappy as we were that they ran out of food. Obviously they'd like to sell more," he continued. "It was a learning process for everyone last year, and we're all ready this time around."