A great day for the family

July 21, 2016   ·   0 Comments

There’s no denying that this summer has been absolutely gorgeous, and perfect for getting outside, enjoying the fresh air, spending time with friends, and participating in community events.

For this past weekend, that meant attending the Rotary Club’s annual Ribfest. If you’ve never been, and especially never heard of it, you really should look into it for next year.

Ribfest is basically one giant backyard barbecue, with a midway for the kids, some minor shopping, great music, and massive amounts of food. Chances are you are going to run into a minimum of a handful of people you know and probably meet a bunch you don’t.

Admission is free, so even if you aren’t into all the other things, it makes a great day out for the family. Saturday includes an incredible car show, and Sunday features several dog shows. Live bands play throughout the weekend, and for those who want nothing more than to drink a cold one while hanging out in the sun, there’s even a beer tent.

The car show is definitely a major highlight of the weekend. If you’re anything like me, and love cars, you’ll find more than enough vehicles to tickle your fancy during the late-afternoon event. Though I am a sucker for anything American Muscle, particularly those released in the late 60s/early 70s, there were some pretty sweet modern rides there as well, including a gorgeous 2003 Lamborghini Murcielago. I’m pretty sure the wheels alone on that thing cost more than my house.

While all those things make the event great, the best part, really, is the ribs. I’m not even a huge rib lover, but the calibre of ribs produced by the Ribbers every year is enough to make my mouth water. 

Save for an intense sunburn, this year’s Ribfest did not disappoint.

One of the cool parts about my job is that every now and again, I get the opportunity to not just cover, but participate in a community event as a media representative (the annual Hogey’s Chilli Cookoff is one of them). At Ribfest, that means getting to sit on the Judges’ Panel to determine who has the best ribs.

Depending on the kind of things you look for in a rib, the outcome of who your favourite is can differ.

For me, sauce is key. I consider myself a bit of a barbecue sauce snob. I love barbecue sauce. I even make my own, when I have the time and patience (so far, my best one has been a Whiskey Chipotle Maple Cajun sauce).

Most sauces taste different on meat than they do on their own, so the first thing I consider is how the sauce tastes with the rib meat. A couple of the sauces I absolutely adore on their own, but find they lose their ‘oomph’ for me on pork.

Next is how well cooked they are. I do take into consideration how busy the festival is at the time of judging; more afternoon crowds means having to produce the ribs at a faster speed, whereas smaller crowds means they can spend a little more time on the grill.

Fat content in the meat is another one. While fat in meat isn’t always a bad thing, I find with pork it’s just very chewy and a little too much.

And finally, there is the overall ‘experience’ of the rib. How do all of these factors work in together to give the overall flavour/texture its appeal?  Would I eat these ribs again?

Usually, the hard part is for most of the Ribbers, the answer to eating them again is usually a resounding “Yes!”

Outside of the actual eating of the ribs, the judging is a pretty awesome experience itself. It’s a chance to connect with other members of the media, local dignitaries, and volunteers, and laugh and joke, and be a part of something. For a short time, I get to take off my ‘reporter hat’ and participate.

Plus, there is something pretty cool about listening to the announcement of who had the Best Ribs and the Best Sauce, and know you played a part in getting the winner named.

When it comes down to it though, Ribfest is about so much more than good food and something to do on a weekend. It’s about connecting with our community and raising funds to help projects along that better our community experience on the whole. The first few years helped to fund a pretty spectacular splash pad on the west end of town. It will be incredible to see just what the Rotary Club is able to do next.

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