NORTH CENTER — Miki Sudo will be back to defend her RibMania title when she returns to Ribfest on June 6.
Sudo, ranked the No. 4 competitive eater in the world by Major League Eating, scored a massive upset in 2013 when she bested a field led by No. 1-ranked Joey Chestnut, who will not be revisiting the scene of his defeat.
The challengers at RibMania V — an eight-minute battle of human vs. baby back ribs — will include No. 9-ranked Michelle Lesco and No. 10-ranked Jeff Butler. They'll be gunning for the RibMania record set in 2012 by Chicagoan Tim "Gravy" Brown, who wolfed down 7.8 pounds of pork at the incredible rate of nearly a pound a minute.
The just-released list of food vendors includes another pair of repeat champs: Uncle Bub's BBQ, which took home the Best Ribs crown in 2013, and Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, winner of the 2013 People's Choice vote.
Overall, Ribfest's grub will have a decidedly neighborhood flavor, with a number of North Center and Lincoln Square joints firing up their grills: Big Bricks, Big Fork Brands, Black Rock Pub & Kitchen, Browntrout, Lincoln Square Lanes, the Piggery and Smokin' Woody's. ROCKS Bar, which is taking over Corner 41 at 4138 N. Lincoln Ave., also has signed on as a vendor, jumping right into the community waters.
Eschewing the cover band route taken by many other neighborhood fests, the Ribfest music lineup is as eclectic as ever, including Friday night's headliner, indie rocker Sallie Ford, and Sunday night's closer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Ribfest, scheduled for June 6-8, is centered at the intersection of Irving Park Road and Damen and Lincoln avenues.