Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest

Town assisting Rotary Club to move Ribfest to the Libro Centre



By Ron Giofu


The town will be assisting the Rotary Club of Amherstburg move its signature event to the Libro Centre.

The Rotary Club’s tenth annual Ribfest will be at its new location the first weekend of July and town council agreed to waive equipment and rental fees to use the facility with the town also assisting with site preparation. Ribfest committee members Lena Lazanja and Steve Butcher appeared before town council seeking assistance with Lazanja pointing out the club’s many accomplishments over the years, including the steady growth of Ribfest. Lazanja stated that Ribfest has exceeded their expectations.

“We want to make the tenth year our best year for Ribfest,” she said.

Butcher, who is co-chairing the committee with Ann Marie Favot, said their aim is to “amp it up and make it bigger and better.” The move to the Libro Centre means they need an extra 2,500 linear feet of fencing, repairs to the grounds and removal of berms and piles of dirt.

The new site, according to Butcher, will allow the Ribfest to grow and bring in more vendors.

“Centennial Park was excellent but (the Libro Centre site) is an acre-and-a-half more,” said Butcher.

The tenth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest is planned for July 5-7 at the Libro Centre.

Butcher added that by upgrading the site at the Libro Centre, it could prove beneficial to more than just the Ribfest.

“Moving forward with this could attract other event to the area,” he believed.

Councillor Peter Courtney noted the Greater Essex County District School Board is allowing the town to use the 15 acres the board bought for another year. He questioned whether the Ribfest should go back to Centennial Park for one more year and plan to be at the Libro Centre for 2020. Lazanja believed it would be too late to switch back with Butcher calling this “an ideal time to expand.”

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche said he would have liked to have seen the request several weeks earlier, prior to the town’s budget deliberations, but Butcher indicated plans started falling into place only recently. Butcher reiterated his belief that the improvements at the site would “benefit the town and future events at the site.”

CAO John Miceli said council approved developing a master plan for the Libro Centre as part of the 2019 budget. He added that some of the costs that the town would incur in preparing the site and waiving the fees could amount to about $15,000 but believed that total could be brought down if town staff does some of the work necessary at the site.

Other expenses could be a one-time cost, the CAO believed, with items such as fencing being able to be used at other sites as well.

Councillor Marc Renaud said he was supportive of the initiative, noting it was the Ribfest’s tenth anniversary. Councillor Michael Prue said he wanted a report on where the upwards of $15,000 in costs would come from, as the money is not budgeted, with Miceli indicating such figures would be contained in variance reports.

The Ribfest also launched a new Twitter account. People can follow it by going to @aburgribfest1.

Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest this weekend, volunteers needed



By Ron Giofu


The ninth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest is this weekend and volunteers are still needed.

Carl Gibb, chair of the Ribfest committee, acknowledged that “we need volunteers” but said plans are coming together nicely nonetheless.

“Things are going well,” said Gibb.

Four ribbers – Ribs Royale, Texas Rangers BBQ, Dinosaur and Fat Boys BBQ – are anticipated to converge at Centennial Park in what will be the final Ribfest at that location. There will also the return of the Golden Onion, Elephant Ears, ice cream, specialty fries, hamburgers, desserts and more.

A wide variety of vendors are also expected to be on site.

The bands, organized this year by an entertainment committee led by Rick Rock and John D’Alimonte, feature such performers as Bad Romance, Soul Minors, Soul Delegation and Buck Twenty Friday night, the Rio Michaels Trio, Johnny Toronto, Throwback Kings, Jody Raffoul, Dusty, No Drama and South River Slim on Saturday with Sunday’s lineup featuring Adam Butcher, Back to Back, The Delvitos, and Chris Borshuk and Kelly Hoppe.

“It’s an exciting time this year because of the bands we have,” said Laura George, a Rotarian and member of the Ribfest committee.

“We’re hoping for big crowds due to the bands we’ve got,” added Gibb.

The Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest returns to Centennial Park July 6-8. Volunteers are still needed for this year’s event. It will be the final Ribfest at Centennial Park.

Organizers are hoping for the biggest Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest yet.

As for next year, the search continues for a new location. Centennial Park will be unavailable as 15 of the 27 acres was sold to the Greater Essex County District School Board for a new public high school.

“We hope to continue to work with the town. The town is attentive to our needs,” said George.

Gibb added it’s a good feeling that both the public and the ribbers want to come back every year.

The Ribfest committee will enter the weekend thinking of one of its members, as Barb Brookbanks recently passed away.

“It’s kind of left a hole,” said George. “We were able to rally and we tried to fill her shoes.”

For more information, visit and click on the “Ribfest” tab at the top of the screen.

To volunteer, contact Ann Marie Favot at 519-980-7697 or George at 519-982-2684.

The Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest runs from 12-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12-7 p.m. Sunday.