SOUTH BELOIT — Max Rude was dishing up the ribs as part of the South Beloit Fire Department rib cooking team Saturday, telling the people he served “sauce is the boss.”

Several area fire departments competed in the first ever Rockton-Roscoe Rotary Ribfest in the parking lot of Viking Lanes. Clint Czizek, Rotary Club member and South Beloit High School Principal, said the event raised money for scholarships that the club will present to high school seniors at South Beloit and Hononegah high schools.

Czizek and fellow Rotary member Glenn Terry, also were grilling ribs and handing them out to those who gathered at the event, but the main competition was between members of area fire departments, who were proud to describe in mouth-watering detail, how they prepared their ribs.

Rude said he was using a recipe crafted by his wife’s grandfather and he used the 3-2-1 method of cooking his ribs, which involved three hours of smoking, two hours of cooking over apple wood and one hour of bathing in its own juices.

“We used apple brandy and apple juice to maintain the moisture,” Rude added. “It’s a sweek rib with a tangy sauce.”

However, it was the Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department team that took home the top prize for having “The Ultimate Rack of Ribs.”

Patrick Trollop and John Donovan were in charge of preparing ribs for the Harlem-Roscoe team. They were using a mobile grilling trailer which was custom made for the fire department by the Harlem High School Trades Department students. They use the mobile grill for the department’s spring dinner, for its pork chop dinner and other events.

They described the ribs they were preparing as “bone tender with a sweet heat rub.”

This was their first rib cooking competition, but they hoped it would not be their last.

“We already have plans for what to do different next year,” Trollop said.

Mark Quirk and David Rosen of the North Park Fire Department in Machesney Park were offering three varieties of ribs, each prepared with a different rub—a sweet and tangy Memphis/St. Louis rub, a coffee rub made with ground coffee made by Fire Department Coffee of Rockford, Illinois, and a Texas rub that Rosen picked up while he was in the U.S. Army.

“It has a touch of cayenne pepper. It will keep hitting you throughout the day,” he said.

The Rotary Club members hope to continue the Ribfest since everyone seemed to have a good time and patrons enjoyed the tasty ribs.