What if we were to tell you there was a way for you to help the surrounding community while also tasting some of the best ribs around? That’s what you can do at the United Way Kickoff and Rib Cookoff, happening August 6 at Good Times of Olean. The money raised will help United Way of Cattaraugus County continue on its admirable path of funding and assisting 17 organizations throughout the county.
With more than 20 teams competing, visitors will have the opportunity to taste ribs from teams coming from New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and everywhere in between. Although it’s an amateur competition, chances are strong that the ribs you’re eating will be pretty darn good. Candy Plants, Executive Director of United Way-Cattaraugus County, said they’re most excited for this year because of the buzz around it.
“This will be our 6th year doing an amateur rib competition as the highlight of our United Way fundraising,” she said. “We’re doing a couple things differently this year. First, we’ve moved the date. Typically, this event happens in September, but we’ve had iffy weather the last couple of years. August definitely gives us a better chance at weather (seeing as the competition is outside.) Also, we moved the venue to Good Times of Olean, which allows us to host an arts & crafts show inside in the convention center.”
Good Times has a plethora of additional activities, which United Way is using to its advantage. There will be beach volleyball tournaments going on, live music by Diggin’ Roots, the indoor arts & crafts vendors, and a full bar. Not to mention - Good Times is hosting this event for free, which is huge for United Way.
“The fee for the rib teams is $75, which gets you 50 pounds of ribs to cook,” Plants said. “Everybody gets their ribs early that morning to start cooking, and the judging starts around noon. There are two ways a team can win - by getting the highest score from the judges, or winning ‘The People’s Choice’ by getting the most votes from our visitors.”
The winner of the judges’ pick gets a Traeger Smoker Grill, donated by True Value in Springville, plus a 50 pound iron pig as a trophy. The winner of the people’s choice will get a monetary gift certificate to use at True Value to purchase a new grill (they’ll also get a pig trophy.)
“A full rib is a sample, and you get 3-4 rib samples for $6 and one vote. The People’s Choice vote will take place from 11:30am-2:30pm,” Plants said. “A lot of teams use this event as a practice round for bigger events. We’re not sanctioned, but we follow the Kansas City rules, meaning it can be a legitimate practice round for further competitions. A lot of the teams are families, which is super cool.”
The United Way of Cattaraugus County has four special events every year to help them with operating costs. “This is definitely one of the biggest ones,” Plants said. “When we have good turnouts for events like this, it helps us continue to help the surrounding community, which is our main goal. Five Star Bank recently wrote us a check for $3,500, which paid for the ribs and some of our marketing costs. It’s the things that people and businesses do to help us that allows us to fulfill our mission statement.”