RE: Rib Fests?
I myself get the smokey flavor in my bbq sauce by using either peppers or tomatos that I have smoked. If it is going to be a spicey sauce I use chipotle "smokes jalopeno pepers" and if it going to be a sweet sauce I generally use some smoked tomatos and a little liquid smoke, but you have to watch the LS because the flavor can be kinda funky if you use too much. Sometimes I smoke garlic too, that can ad a great smokey flavor along with a the sweet wonderful flavor of roasted garlic to anything.
and as far as rib fest I live just accross the st clair river from sarnia onterio and thay have a huge rib fest there every summer from what I understand, but I have never been there. I know I would love to get there but I just never get the time. I guess I am too busy smoking my own ribs on the pit in my backyard. The best food type fest I have been to in my life though I did have some great ribs at is the Arts, Beats and eats festival in pontiac MI every laborday weekend. It is a 3 day food, music and art fest that draws about 1.5 million people. Talk about great food and music.... the art dont do much for me though.
I have a yahoo group that specializes in bbqing and grilling if anyone is intersted in joining shoot me an email and I will invite you.