Downtown McAlester festival series adds Ribtober Fest

Staff file photo 

Another community block party will take place in downtown McAlester with the addition of an upcoming cooking competition with Oktoberfest season in mind.

Jeremy Beaver, chairperson of the McAlester Makers competition committee, said the committee that organizes an annual steak competition added Ribtoberfest to bring a free, fun community event to the city's downtown area — with an Oktoberfest feel.

"We just want people to come out and have fun," Beaver said.

Ribtober Fest is set for Nov. 6 in downtown McAlester and is part of the the Grillmarks Festival Series held annually along Choctaw Avenue that brings the community together for a block party and a steak competition.

BierKraft and Prairie Partisan Ales will host biergartens with Oktoberfest-style beers. Tulsa-based Americana artist Jacob Tovar will perform at Spaceship Earth Coffee during the event.

The event's meat sponsor is ZZ's Country Store, a butcher shop in Indianola that will provide competitors with 2 lbs. of German sausage and two full, untrimmed racks of pork spare ribs.

Each team that enters the rib competition will submit five ribs to the judges — with the best ribs awarded a $1,500 grand prize. The ribs must be prepared on site using any preparation method and will be judged based on taste, texture, and appearance.

A "best bite" competition is optional to any team who wants to submit any dish that incorporates the German sausage for judges to choose which bite was best based on originality, taste and appearance. The best bite competition has no rules in an open judging contest and the winner is awarded $1,000.

Teams can also compete in a barbecue sauce competition. No commercial sauces will be allowed and submissions must be made from scratch with the winner being awarded $250. The sauce competition will also be open judging.

Check-in is between 10-11 a.m. and judging will be 5-6 p.m. with the three competitions rolling throughout the event. Teams can register on the event's Facebook page and are encouraged to sign up well in advance.

"Be original — originality goes a long way," Beaver said of his advice to competitors.

Beaver said the Grillmarks Festival Series originated from him competing in steak competitions for years and talking with Vic Wheeler, Damon Mascato, Zach Prichard, and Cully Stevens about organizing some similar events for downtown.

He said the group wanted to organize fun events for people to enjoy in McAlester and the first Grillmarks steak competition was held in 2017 with a dozen teams. It grew to 20 teams the next year and more than two dozen teams in 2019 before the 2020 events was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Grillmarks steak competition returned in May 2021 with several teams and locals enjoying games, free food, music and fun on Choctaw Avenue in McAlester.

"We all have a shared belief that the downtown commercial district is important to the commuinty so that's the reason why to have it there — but these events are important for anywhere just to get the community together, enjoying each other and having a good time," Beaver said.

Grillmarks is organized by McAlester Makers Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in McAlester dedicated to promoting economic stability and growth by cultivating and equipping local entrepreneurs, artisans, and the community in which they live.

Anyone can walk to different teams' stations to try other items they prepare for the block-party-type event.

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at

Trending Video

Recommended for you