Mackenthun’s Ribfest

Event celebrates good food, festive music and some friendly competition.
Summertime celebration heats up.

Mackenthun’s market started with a dream and some tasty homemade sausage back in 1917, making this year its 100th anniversary. To celebrate, Mackenthun’s hosts its 14th annual Ribfest July 15  in Waconia; food service begins at 10 a.m., and live music starts at 11 a.m.

Jessa Theis, partner in the company, says the event was inspired by the local community. “It started really small. [The] first year, we maybe had five or six contestants,” Theis says. “Our dairy manager dreamed it up because he loves grilling.” However, after noticing that local residents held their own competition, “We said, ‘Come and do it in our parking lot.’ It’s something that organically grew,” Theis explains.

A few years ago, the Ribfest started a partnership with the Waconia Rodeo, with the idea of supporting each other’s events and encouraging the community to come out and enjoy a great weekend.

A clown from the Waconia Rodeo is set to drop by the contest, the Waconia Lions Club will offer beer for Ribfest (as a fundraiser for Relay for Life) and local band Traveled Ground, specializing in American blues and folk music, will provide entertainment.  For the younger set, a bounce house and pony rides will  be on hand.

Attendees can enjoy full or half racks of ribs (sold by Mackenthun’s), cornbread, baked beans and potato salad all while watching 25 contestants battle it out for the glory of being the ultimate Rib Master. “It’s fun to be able to see the grillers with their friends and family,” Theis says.

Ribfest hosted nearly 400 people last year but maintains the vibe of a large-scale family barbeque. What started as a dream and a love for good food has blossomed into an event that celebrates the community. As Theis says, “I guess the rest is history.”