- 1 of 11 Photos | View More Photos
Not even 15 minutes into the first day of the Greater Alliance Carnation Festival Rib Fest, a thunderstorm struck the Carnation City Mall parking lot, causing vendors to take cover in their tents, trailers and vehicles.
The weather made for a slow start to the evening, but many residents wouldn't let the half-hour-long storm and ominous skies keep them from an annual tradition.
Boyd Webster was among the first people out after the storm buying ribs from Fat Guys. Webster said he lives within a block of the Carnation City Mall and walks over with his wife each night of the festival.
"We like to meet with the people we haven't seen in a long time," he said.
The couple has been coming for over 20 years.
Andrea and Frank McArtor sat a few picnic tables behind them, enjoying their barbecue pulled pork sandwiches. The two said they have been coming to the Rib Fest since 2008 and come for one thing -- the barbecue.
But there's not just barbecue at the Rib Fest. Lobster Louie's is a new vendor to the Rib Fest. Frank and Kelly Suter own a food truck that specializes in seafood. It was the giant inflatable lobster on the side of the truck that attracted Manuel Viana to what would become his dinner.
Viana is in town for a funeral and attended the Rib Fest for the first time this year. He is a captain on a commercial fishing boat off the New Jersey coast. He was staying at the Comfort Inn at Carnation City Mall on Thursday night during the Rib Fest and said when he walked over for dinner and saw the lobster it called his name.
"I thought it was very good, and I catch lobster for a living," he said, showing the owners of the truck his photos of a rare blue lobster he recently caught.
Gary Barnes, chairman of the Rib Fest for the past 16 years, is chairing the event for the last time this year. He said due to his health he told the Carnation Festival board that he will step down next year, but added he will "still be around to help."
As rain poured down on the Rib Fest and Business Expo vendors Thursday, Barnes said he felt bad for the vendors who rely on the income of those opening hours to make more of a profit.
"Some of them rely on the first few hours to be able to turn more of a profit," he said.
Even with the rain, Barnes said he expects the attendance of the event to be in the tens of thousands. In a typical year, 32,000 people will come through the event.
Kia of Alliance is the sponsor of the Rib Fest this year, and Lowe's is the sponsor for the Business Expo.
The Rib Fest will continue today and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m.
Musical acts will perform each night of the Rib Fest. The weather cleared up enough for the Hern Brothers to perform Thursday night. La Flavour will perform at 8 p.m. today and New Wave Nation will take the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday.