What: Mahoning Valley Rib Burn Off
When: Noon to midnight, Thursday through Sunday
Where: Eastwood Mall front parking lot, U.S. Route 422, Niles
Admission: Free until 3 p.m.; $3 afterward. Children 12 and under will be admitted free at all times.
5 p.m.: The Guilty Pleasures
7 p.m.: The Kellys
9 p.m.: Rudy and the Professionals
4 p.m.: Binder
6 p.m.: Dali Dagger
8:30 p.m.: Aftermath
1 p.m.: Makayla Dawn
3:30 p.m.: Cosmic Circus
5 p.m.: The Wet Lemons
8 p.m.: Bikini contest, featuring Playboy model Lisa Neeld
9 p.m.: Dizzy Whore, with the Grinder Girls
10 p.m.: Blessid Union of Souls
Noon: Lady Justice
2:30 p.m.: Stella Parks
4 p.m.: TBA
6 p.m.: Back Alley Band
8 p.m.: Youngstown’s Total Package Band
5555 Youngstown-Warren Road, Niles
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The Mahoning Valley Rib Burn Off has slashed its admission price to $3 this year to give recession-weary residents a break. Admission last year was $7.
The annual four-day affair kicks off today and runs through Sunday. It will be in the front parking lot of Eastwood Mall instead of in the rear parking lot near Eastwood Field where it was last year.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have home games tonight and Friday, necessitating the move. But the festival also wanted to return to the more-visible mall lot along the U.S. 422 Strip, where it all began, according to Jeff Mortimer of Armadillo’s in Austintown.
Armadillo’s, Guy’s Barbecue of Newtown Falls and Esther’s of Warren are the three local rib cookers competing in the Burn Off. They will go up against Mojo’s Rib Shack of Florida, Sgt. Oink’s of Kentucky, Smokin’ Joe’s of Tennessee and Pigfoot of Florida. A panel of judges will sample each vendor’s ribs and sauce and reveal the winners Sunday night.
Music is always a big part of the festival, and the headliner of this year’s event will be Blessid Union of Souls, who are best-known for the 1999 hit “Hey Leonardo [She Likes Me for Me].” Blessid Union will perform at 10 p.m. Saturday.
Aftermath, a tribute band that captures the 1960s British Invasion-psychedelic pop experience, will headline Friday night at 8:30 p.m.
The festival also will include some children’s games, including a bounce-around, assorted vendors, cold beer and a Monster Truck simulator.
Mortimer said most of the rib cookers are members of the National Barbecue Cookers Association. NBCA members travel the country, competing for awards at rib festivals. “We’re all perfectionists,” he said.
Advance Auto Parts is the sponsor of the Burn Off. The retailer will give away two tickets to anyone who makes a purchase of at least $25 at any one of its 20 stores in the region.