Great taste, great cause to benefit Beloit Hospice

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Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News Beloit Firefighters Local #583 Lt. Shaun Eberdt and Capt. Scott Smith gather for a photo. They and retired Acting Lt. Jon Kemmett will be some of the rib makers at Beloit's Ninth Annual Ribfest set for Saturday, Sept. 29.

BELOIT - "In our daily work we see these people, and they are saints."

That's what Beloit Firefighters Local #583 Lt. Shaun Eberdt said about Beloit Regional Hospice workers. It's part of the reason he, Capt. Scott Smith and retired Acting Lt. Jon Kemmett will be serving up ribs at Beloit's Ninth Annual Ribfest set for Saturday, Sept. 29. With proceeds benefiting Beloit Regional Hospice, the firefighters are eager to help.

"We've done it for several years running," Eberdt said.

"I like getting out and enjoying the best ribs Beloit has to offer and raising money for a good cause," Smith said.

Smith said Hospice's work is nothing short of incredible.

The Beloit Firefighters Local #583 team has the cooking down to a science. They use offset pit smoking, with a separate chamber for cooking and the firebox.

"They are truly slow smoked with indirect heat," Eberdt said. "There's a ton of different cooking styles people do and use. We cook ours all with charcoal to maintain the heat level. We use a hardwood to create the smoke for the flavor and cook them for six hours."

Eberdt said he cooks for fun and adds different ingredients and flavors depending on his mood, or whatever he grabs off the shelf at the store.

The team has won third place with ribs one time, and last year it won for best sauce.

Eberdt wouldn't give away too many secrets but said the best hardwoods to grill with are oak, hickory, cherry, mulberry, pecan and/or apple.

He said the Beloit Firefighters Local #583 purchases 35 racks of ribs to donate. They will also be offering macaroni and cheese.

The firefighters aren't the only Ribfest die-hards.

Tom Finley, his "sous chef" Ron Starmer and his son Matt Finley will be back with the Burning Desires Rib Team. Finley, who has been at every Ribfest, will be bringing back his sweet and spicy Tommy Rub.

"I put that on them the night before and then we cook for six hours on the day of the event," Finley said.

Finley, who doesn't have a smoker, uses eight Weber grills. He offers succulent baby back ribs with a slightly spicy, sweet and smoky flavor.

"I try to make the meat falling off the bone but not falling to pieces so you can walk around and eat one of the ribs," Finley said.

Finley said he enjoys the camaraderie of cooking and hearing from the public.

"It's very gratifying," he said.

Finley said his father Maurice Finley was in his home for the last five months of his life, and Hospice was a huge help to his family.

Smith said Hospice has helped his family as well.

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