Ribs N Rock Fest Is Right at Home at DeBartolo Commons

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Corey Ward, promoter and owner of the Ribs N Rock festival, wasn’t wild about moving the event to DeBartolo Commons last year.

But now, he can’t imagine a better site.

DeBartolo Commons is the new entertainment and sports complex near the south entrance of Southern Park Mall. It’s about a thousand feet from the festival’s previous location in the mall’s west parking lot but is a much better fit for the festival, which is one of the Valley’s most popular annual weekend events.

“When we were first asked to move from the JCPenney’s parking lot to the new DeBartolo Commons area, I resisted,” Ward said. “Mall management did an excellent job of reassuring us that it was the best move for the event, and they were right.”

The new venue exceeded the expectations of Ward and his crew. It’s spacious, level and comfortable because it sits on artificial turf that is used for soccer games.

The inaugural event at the new site was so successful that there was no need to make any tweaks this year.

“I feel we really laid the event out perfectly last year,” Ward said. “We won’t be changing much, if anything, for this year.”

Last year, the festival drew 3,214 on Thursday, 8,743 on Friday and 4,079 on Saturday.

One thing that never changes is the irresistible ribs that are cooked on-site by some seasoned pros. The aroma of ribs wafts well beyond the festival grounds and is a draw of its own.

The rib cookers this year will be returning favorites from past festivals: Carolina Rib King of Spartanburg, South Carolina; Desperado’s BBQ and Rib Co. of Hinckley, Ohio; Off the Bone BBQ of Mobile, Alabama; and Texas Outlaws BBQ of Sugarland, Texas.

The festival runs from Thursday through Saturday, June 22-24. Gates will open at noon each day.

Desperado’s Barbecue and Rib Co. is one of the returning rib cookers at this year’s Ribs N Rock festival.

Admission is free until 3 p.m. After that, admission is $7 (free for children 10 and under with an adult).

Live music is the other half of Ribs N Rock, and this year’s headliners include The Gin Blossoms and Fuel – alternative rock acts that first hit the scene in the ’90s – and The Clarks.

The Gin Blossoms will take the stage Saturday, Fuel on Friday, and The Clarks on Thursday.

Founded in Arizona, The Gin Blossoms rose to rock prominence with the release of their 1992 debut album, “New Miserable Experience,” which spawned the hit “Hey Jealousy.”

The band continued its jangly guitar hit-making for several albums before breaking up and later reforming. The band’s singles also include “Until I Fall Away,” “Found Out About You,” “Allison Road,” “Till I Hear It from You” and “Follow You Down.”

Fuel, which formed in Harrisburg, Pa., is known for hits “Shimmer,” “Hemorrhage [In My Hands]” and “Bad Day.”

Here is the full schedule of live music:


  • 5 p.m.: Bad Juju;
  • 6:30 p.m.: Triple Threat;
  • 8 p.m.: The Clarks.


  • 5 p.m.: Negative Zen;
  • 6 p.m.: No Funk No Justice;
  • 7:30 p.m.: RDNA;
  • 9 p.m.: Fuel.


  • 5 p.m.: Turbo Lovers;
  • 6:15 p.m.: Youngstown’s Epic Band;
  • 7:30 p.m.: AC & The Heat;
  • 9 p.m.: Gin Blossoms.

Pictured at top: The crowd at last year’s Ribs N Rock festival awaits a performance on the stage.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.