DeJuan Giles said it's tough work -- but somebody's got to do it.

Giles and Scott Dye, both employees of City Barbeque and Catering's Westerville location, 600 S. State St., will be judges at this year's Jazz & Rib Fest, slated for Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21, along the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus.

Giles and Dye are certified members of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and will evaluate pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken.

The wise method is not to gorge oneself on any single entry, Giles said, but to take it one bite at a time.

"To be honest, it's all about moderation," he said. "You just don't want to overdo it at each place you go."

The 40th annual Jazz & Rib Fest is free and open to the public. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Different teams will judge the food and hand out the "best of" honors for food in each of the four categories and the grand-champion award -- for overall performance -- to be announced Friday evening. The "People's Choice" prize also will be awarded.

"We look for appearance, flavor, tenderness and smoke -- or the stamp or authenticity," Giles said. "There's a ton of stuff we look for. Every competition is a little different."

Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant, 240 E. Kossuth St. in German Village, is the only central Ohio restaurant participating in this year's festival.

"That is by far the best-smelling event we do all year," said Carla Epler, COO of Schmidt's.

Epler said the process starts with a dry rub of garlic, cumin, brown sugar, salt, onion powder and such. The ribs are smoked over pecan wood and finished on the charbroiler. The sauce, added just before serving to those who want it, is sweet with a mild, lingering spiciness.

Schmidt's does only two rib competitions a year.

"We don't propose to compete with those guys who do it on a daily basis," she said.

Beverages from BrewDog, Middle West Spirits, MANCAN Wine and G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Inc. will be at this year's festival.

Regarding the jazz portion of the festival, the entertainment lineup will include the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, a jazz-meets-rock band known for its swing-era style. The "Hot" album, the group's sophomore effort, was certified platinum in 1996.

Squirrel Nut Zippers will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday in Genoa Park.

Another featured band is the Soul Rebels with special guest GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, which will perform at 9 p.m. Friday on the Bicentennial Stage.

Two stages will hum with music for the duration of the festival.

"What makes Jazz & Rib (Fest) so special is that from start to finish every day, we have nonstop music on two stages and a great variety of local, regional and national acts," said Brian Hoyt, a spokesman for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, which presents the Jazz & Rib Fest.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary