After four days of beautiful weather and big crowds, Mankato RibFest organizer Burt Lyman was happy.
After attending three of the four days and enjoying the music, the beer and the companionship, RibFest fan Robert Stevenson of North Mankato was happy.
And after winning the People’s Choice Award and the Adrian Peterson choice award, the staff at Texas Thunder BBQ was doubly happy.
“Mankato, we love you,” shouted Texas Thunder grill-master Curtis House and Texas Thunder BBQ Team leader Nikki Haggerty after winning the most votes among the half-dozen ribbers selling at the event.
Moments earlier, House and Haggerty were feeling the love of Peterson, the Vikings MVP running back who wandered down to Ribfest on the team’s day off from their Mankato training camp. Peterson, accompanied by wide receiver Jarius Wright and couple of other Vikings, chose Texas Thunder.
Haggerty, despite being a Dallas Cowboys fan, had nonetheless used her visit to Minnesota to purchase a No.-28 Peterson jersey for her 5-year-old son, Austin. Then, when Peterson walked up to her barbecue booth, she had a chance to ask him to autograph it.
“They were so genuinely nice,” she said of Peterson and his teammates. “They overpaid for their food. They were super-sweet.”
For the record, last-year’s 2,000-yard rusher might be throwing a couple of extra pounds at opposing linebackers this year after purchasing a beef-brisket sandwich, a side of macaroni and cheese and an order of ribs.
House — a St. Louis resident who has been making the trip to Mankato for years to cook at the Texas Thunder booth — got his picture taken with the Vikings and made one request of the team that ended the Rams’ play-off hopes last year with a 36-22 victory.
“I said, I just want to ask you guys to do me a favor ... take it easy on the Rams,” House said.