Ribfest draws an estimated 11,500 people

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By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Rotary Club’s fourth annual Ribfest is history with thousands streaming through the gate at Centennial Park to chow down.

Carl Gibb, member of the organizing committee, gave an early attendance estimate Monday morning of 11,500 people.

“That’s despite the rain on Saturday,” he said.

Rain came down Saturday night but people came out anyway, he said, as 4,200 people came to Ribfest Saturday alone.

“They were walking in with umbrellas and standing in line with umbrellas,” said Gibb. “It worked out good.”

Gibb said he was “pretty happy” with how things turned out overall, as things went smoothly. He said the public seemed happy with how things were organized this year.

“It was nice,” he said.

The Rotary Club and the organizing committee were thankful for the number of volunteers they received, he added. He also praised the work of the committee itself.

“This event does not happen overnight,” said Gibb. “It takes 6-8 months to organize. It takes a lot of planning, a lot of commitment and a lot of hard work. It’s an enormous amount of work.”

Derek Buchanan, a ribber working at the Texas Rangers grill, said he enjoyed coming to the Amherstburg Ribfest.

“I like these small, little towns,” said Buchanan, who lives in Chatham. “It’s a nice little town and right on the river. There are a lot of good people here. Amherstburg really likes their ribs.”

New additions for the Ribfest this year included a misting tent, vendors such as Beaver Tails and kettle corn, a new carnival operator and The Chop Shop, the only ribber not be a returnee from last year. Walkerville Brewery was added as the official beer vendor this year. Main sponsors of the Ribfest included WFCU, United Communities Credit Union, Amherstburg GM and Tim Hortons.

Other ribbers included Texas Rangers, Bibb’s BBQ, Ribs Royale, and Crabby’s BBQ Shack. Some had ownership from as far as North Carolina and Texas.

Rotary Club past president Lena Lazanja joked that the best way to get people out is to appeal to their stomachs. She said people she spoke with, for months, were anxious for Ribfest.

“This is the perfect kickoff to summer vacation,” she said. “Everyone has been talking about it. People have been talking about it since Christmas. People are learning this is the place to be.”

Rotary Club member Tony Ross said the ribs are the key reason people come year-after-year. Weather has played somewhat of an issue in years past as it has either rained or been too hot for people to stay at Centennial Park.

Proceeds go to ongoing Rotary Club projects such as maintaining the Park House, Easter Seals, contributing to the eradication of polio and other projects in Amherstburg.

“We’re trying to catch our breath and work on something new,” said Gibb.

The people’s choice award for best sauce went to Ribs Royale, with Crabby’s BBQ Shack and the Chop Shop taking second and third respectively. Ribs Royale was also people’s choice winner in best ribs, with Chop Shop and Texas Rangers rounding out the top three.

Ribs Royale continued its hot streak, winning best ribs as chosen by the judges. The judging panel named Crabby’s second place and Chop Shop third while Crabby’s was the judges’ choice for best sauce, followed by Texas Rangers and Chop Shop.

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