Crowds flock to 3rd Annual Ribfest


By Chase Ferguson

It was a great weekend for Amherstburg rib lovers as the Rotary Club hosted the 3rd Annual Ribfest in Centennial Park.

Professional ribbers from both Canada and the United States competed to impress the public with mouth watering racks of ribs and flavorful sauces.   Guests were invited to sample as many ribs as possible and then vote for their favourite.

The Rotary Club fundraiser also featured plenty of live entertainment, arts and crafts venders, and bounce castles for the kids. Diverse musical acts covered everything from bluegrass, classic rock, and even the Amherstburg Blues Brothers.

Rotary Club project chair Carl Gibb credited “hundreds of volunteers” and months of planning for making the event such a success.

“It’s a great weekend, and a great venue,” Gibb said. “We also have to be thankful for the beautiful weather for bringing people out.”

All three days of Ribfest were marked by hot temperatures and sunny skies.

Rotary Club president Lena Lazanja was also happy with this year’s turnout.

“This is really a great event for the whole community,” Lazanja said.  “All the money we raise through events such as this end up returning back to the community or to global projects.”

Amherstburg mayor Wayne Hurst said he was happy to see Ribfest continues to grow every year and thanked Rotary Club members for organizing such popular events.

“As usual we must thank the Rotarians for their tremendous service all over Amherstburg,” Hurst said.

Texas Rangers master griller Whitney Finlay stands in front of a hot grill has she flips over a rack of ribs.

For the professional ribbers the only thing hotter than the weather was the competition.  Each colourful rib outlet displayed tables covered in trophies from other Ribfests across North America.

At London, Ont. based Crabby’s BBQ Shack, Tina Kefalidis was working hard to keep up with demand.

“We do about 30 Ribfests each year and we enjoy every one,” Kefalidis said. According to her Crabby’s is the only venue that slow bakes their ribs until they are “fall of the bone good.”

Bibb’s BBQ, the people’s choice for best ribs in 2011, returned to Amherstburg all the way from Naples, Florida.

According to Bibb’s own Katie Willis, it takes four hours of smoking in cherry wood flavour to perfect their award winning product.

“Its four hours of smoking that sets ours apart,” Willis said.  “We’re also the only venue offering baby back ribs.”

Whatever their secret method, every rib venue had long lines snaking away from their BBQ’s over the weekend.

The event has quickly become a popular summer tradition for many people in the area, some of whom even showed up for all three days.

Jaclyn Crowley and David Dinunzio were both return visitors to the Ribfest.   Both said they had become big fans of the event over the years.

“It’s great to see the different sauces they come up with,” Dinunzio said.

The event of course would not have been possible without the Rotary Club’s army of yellow shirted volunteers.  Many worked long hours in the sun to run the Ribfest smoothly. To beat the heat, volunteer Paul Laframboise said the key was “stay hydrated and hope a breeze comes this way.”

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