PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Thousands of people packed the North Shore on Saturday to enjoy what many people call the unofficial end of summer. Between the Rib Fest, Pitt Football and boaters enjoying the holiday weekend, it was the place to be.
Rib Fest vendors were up as early as 6 a.m. getting food ready.
“This is my normal time,” Solomon Williams of Carolina Rib King said with a laugh. “Somebody has got to do it.”
Michael Catania of Bad Azz BBQ said they get into the Pittsburgh-based store around 6 and then head over to the festival.
“We started the fires as soon as we get here, so 7 a.m.,” he told KDKA.
All this work happens hours before the event opens to the public at noon. Some vendors had to cook some of their meats overnight.
“You can’t cook brisket or pork butt unless it cooks overnight. It takes 14 hours to cook. You can’t run out because you can’t make more,” Dan Johnson of Johnson’s BBQ said while they prepared some ribs.
Just over the hillside on the Allegheny River, boaters were getting up with the sun on their holiday weekend.
“Everyday is Fri-yay,” said Gary Popham of Monongahela.
He and his friends docked along the North Shore on Friday afternoon.
“It’s awesome. Look, these people, they’ve been here before us and we got here late,” he said.
“Hey, usually not but today is game day,” Joe Quealy from Derry said about being up early.
His group docked on Tuesday and they plan to stay until Monday.
“We figured, fire up the generator, throw a couple of extra beverages on the boat and get down there and have fun for a couple of days,” Quealy said.
With Pitt playing their season opener under the lights in primetime, vendors expect big crowds.
“Tonight, we should be extremely busy with a home night Pitt game,” Catania said.
Vendors prepared “tons” of meat for the event. Catania said they will go through hundreds of gallons of sauce and more than three thousand racks of ribs.