As you know, I attend almost every festival that takes place in Columbia. One thing I’ve noticed during my constant perusing of Columbia festivals is that they all have their own flair. And Ribs & Renaissance is no different. Last Saturday, the Eau Claire Ribs & Renaissance festival resumed after taking a year off. And I must admit, I think the break did a great deal of good.
Held at the intersection of North Main Street and Monticello Road, Ribs & Renaissance felt more like a block party than a festival. And that’s a good thing! The atmosphere was sociable and inviting, with people and vendors coming far from outside of the 29203 area code, including a large number of families with young children and babies.
If a festival is call Ribs & Renaissance, there must be ribs, right? And there was. Very good ribs, I might add! There was actually a BBQ Throwdown cookoff, in which I was a judge. So much for my diet. Anywho, The Kingsmen out of Cayce, won the BBQ ribs contest with their sweet and savory maple glazed ribs.
However, I voted for Houston’s Low Country Grill to win the pulled pork contest. An honorable mention (or should I say unhonorable) goes out to Surf’s Up who came all the way from Augusta, Ga to participate. Surf’s Up offered Hawaiian style BBQ, which means it was absent of sauce. I’m sorry, but that just does not work for us Southerners. And it was too dang salty too. Don’t they know high blood pressure kills people!
And now for the Renaissance; I think that would be the mini film festival and entertainment portion of the event. Inside the Eau Claire Print Building was a family friendly film festival that took the children out of the sun for a moment; that is if you could drag them away from the games and carnival rides that were advertised. I wonder if they had a bounce house? I couldn’t even tell you. Since I don’t have any chaps, there was absolutely no need for me to even look in that direction. Bad reporter… I know.
But what really brought people from as far away as Charleston was the impressive lineup of musical entertainment. Ribs & Renaissance offered music for everyone. They had gospel with Regina Skeeters for the church folk, folksy music with Day Clean for the laid back, hot local rap from Fat Rat Da Czar for the young and young at heart, and national R&B singer Dwele for the ladies. Now, Dwele was very personable, making the best out of the underwhelming crowd turnout. He accepted the Key to the City just before he sang all of his hits and danced with the ladies in the crowd.
But as wonderful as it was seeing Dwele up close and personal, four white boys out of Ashville, NC actually were the musical standouts. The Secret B-Sides added true coolness, I mean President Obama kind of cool, to the evening with their smooth, soulful sounds. And when they added Preach Jacobs to the mix, they almost upstaged Dwele.
All in all, Eau Claire’s Ribs & Renaissance festival was a smash. I don’t know what they can do to make it better next year. But I’ll be waiting to see!