Centennial Park

Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest draws 13,000 people

By Ron Giofu

 

Great weather, great music and great food were the reasons organizers of the Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest were pleased with last weekend.

The ninth annual Ribfest was held at Centennial Park with four ribbers, a selection of other food vendors, craft vendors, bouncy castles and a full lineup of entertainment available for the thousands that came through the gates.

When all was said and done, organizers are reporting that 13,000 came to the Ribfest.

“They loved the bands,” said Ribfest committee chair Carl Gibb. “The weather really helped. The weather and the entertainment brings (the people) out. People like coming out and enjoying the ribs.”

Not only do the ribbers travel from outside the area to come to Amherstburg, but Gibb noted many other food and craft vendors do as well.

“The Golden Onion came all the way from Montreal,” said Gibb, noting others came from London, Chatham and the Toronto area.

“They come from all over,” he said.

Gibb believed this was one of the better years for the Ribfest but the location of future years remains up in the air. Meetings still have to occur with the Town of Amherstburg on a future location as 15 of the 27 acres of Centennial Park have been sold to the Greater Essex County District School Board for a new public high school.

Anthony Liu from Fat Boys BBQ shows some of the ribs he was barbecuing.

“We’ll have to sit down with them and see,” said Gibb.

Gibb also thanked the crowd for coming out. During brief remarks delivered from the stage Friday night, he told the public “your support of the Ribfest and the Rotary Club is always appreciated. We do this for you.”

Planning, he said, takes up the better part of a year.

Brooke Bratt, Brooke Meloche and Patty Cazabon were three of the people that attended Friday night.

“We love it,” said Bratt. “It’s so much fun. We come every year.”

Between the food, including the blooming onions, and music, Bratt said the Ribfest is “amazing.”

“Go Amherstburg!” she said. “Thank you to Amherstburg for having something like this.”

The ribbers also enjoyed their weekend, including those from Fat Boys BBQ.

“It’s amazing,” said Haley Johnson. “Everyone is so great. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”

“Everyone is really friendly,” added Amanda Gallagher. “They are really good tippers.”

Approximately 13,000 came to Centennial Park the weekend of July 6-8 for the Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest. It is expected to be the last year at Centennial Park.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo thanked the Rotary Club of Amherstburg and its Ribfest committee for “putting on a successful event this year.”

“It should not be a secret that this is a very important part of Amherstburg’s festival lineup,” said DiCarlo. “I couldn’t think of Amherstburg’s summer festival season without the Ribfest.”

Rotary Club president Joan Donaldson also thanked the Ribfest committee as well as all the judges that tasted the sauces and ribs Sunday afternoon. Donaldson said Rotary is an international organization that is a leader in its community, with one of its goals being the eradication of polio.

Buck Twenty was the headliner Friday night at the Ribfest. An entertainment committee led by Rick Rock and John D’Alimonte kept the music flowing for the three-day festival.

Winners from Ribfest saw Dinosaur BBQ Pit win in the best ribs category as ranked by the judges, with Ribs Royale coming in second and Texas Rangers third. The judges’ best sauce awards saw Dinosaur win first place followed by Ribs Royale and Fat Boys Barbecue. The People’s Choice award for sauce saw Dinosaur win again, with the public also agreeing with the judges by ranking Ribs Royale and Fat Boys second and third.

Ribs Royale were the people’s choice for best ribs, followed by Dinosaur and Fat Boys.

To see more photos from the ninth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest, view our Facebook album.

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 www.amherstburgrotary.com 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.

Town gathering input on new parks master plan

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s process towards a new parks master plan continued last week.

Part of the process was a public meeting last Wednesday night at the Libro Centre, which manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger said drew about 30 people. Belanger said consultants Steve Langlois and Joannah Campbell went over the process and the recommendations that are in the report.

In all, there are 71 recommendations. Some deal with upgrades and expanded services at some parks, while other recommendations deal with how repairs and maintenance should be funded.

Among the recommendations are adding baseball diamonds to the Libro Centre, adding a soccer shelter to the Libro Centre, remove deteriorated backstops at Anderdon and Warren Mickle Parks, investigate outdoor fitness equipment at an existing park, upgrade playground surfacing to meet current accessibility standards, continue to replace traditional playground equipment with “creative and challenging” play structures and providing playgrounds within 500 metres of residents within urban areas.

The replacement of the track at Centennial Park is not recommended.

“The plan has provided an audit of the condition of all of our parks,” Belanger told the RTT Thursday morning. “It maps out the locations and comes forward with over 70 recommendations.”

Moving more sports fields and features to the Libro Centre is a possibility under the plan, she stated, with additional amenities to possibly include a second splash pad, basketball courts and a relocated skateboard park.

Belanger noted that “there are recommendations that are park specific but there are overarching recommendations also.”

Under the plan, parks would be classified as destination, athletic, leisure, heritage, civic, natural and linear, the latter including trails and greenways. A natural park is described as municipal open space and “natural properties used for conservation and passive recreational activities.”

A public survey was taken with 120 responses, Belanger added, and there were six organizations that were met with. There are opportunities for redevelopment of existing assets, she continued.

Belanger said the full draft of the parks master plan is on both the town’s website and the town’s “Talk the ‘Burg” site and public feedback is encouraged. The town hopes to have people respond by May 23 with a final draft plan to go before town council June 11.

Consultants from Monteith Brown Planning Consultants conduct a public meeting May 9 at the Libro Centre regarding the draft parks master plan. (Submitted photo)

There are also recommendations that deal with the Belle Vue property and the former Duffy’s location, but Belanger noted there will be more public consultation on those projects.

Pertaining to Belle Vue, the town is hosting two public consultation meetings on consecutive Tuesday nights regarding the future of the Dalhousie St. property. Those meetings “will be held to assess future opportunities, identify potential uses and solicit public input on proposed concepts for the renowned heritage site.”

The Belle Vue meetings are May 29 and June 5 at the Libro Centre, both scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Councillor Diane Pouget brought up the future of Centennial Park at Monday night’s council meeting, specifically the 12 acres that was not purchased by the Greater Essex County District School Board for the new public high school.

According to Pouget, the park was removed from the town’s inventory of parkland and questioned

agreements with the public school board to use the site. She also pointed out the park is named for former mayor Murray Smith, calling him “a great mayor” and stating he made many contributions towards the park’s development.

CAO John Miceli and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo disagreed with Pouget’s assessment of the status of the 12 acres. Although listed as “N/A” in the study, Miceli said when the draft plan was being written, it was not known by the consultants how much of the park would be sold.

“It does not mean it has been removed,” said Miceli, adding that council wants “opportunities” for the site explored.

Miceli doubted the public board would challenge the previous agreement about park usage, since the board is the purchaser of the adjoining lands, adding that a football field is no longer planned for the remaining acres anyway.

Pouget pressed on, stating the public has a right to know what is going on with that land and whether the town is going to get rid of it. Miceli repeated that nothing has been removed from the town’s parks inventory and that “it’s always up to council to do something with parkland. If anything does happen with the 12 acres, council will make that decision and make a responsible decision.”

DiCarlo questioned how many past bylaws Pouget was going to read, adding that issues surrounding the 12 acres was addressed in-camera.

“It will be addressed by council at a later date,” the mayor said of the 12 acres, adding Pouget was starting to get into issues that were discussed in-camera.

New public high school location revealed

By Ron Giofu

 

The location of the new public high school has finally been revealed.

The town will sell 15 acres of the southern portion of Centennial Park to the Greater Essex County District School Board for $2,457,000 with the town putting the proceeds into a parkland reserve. The town will retain 12 acres on the northern end of the park.

The new 819-student high school will house both General Amherst High School students and Western Secondary School students with the estimated opening date being Sept. 2020.

“Amherstburg is getting a single location, dual high school that will be state of the art,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “We’re ecstatic.”

Greater Essex County District School Board and town officials were pleased with the announcement that Centennial Park will house the new school to replace the current General Amherst and Western. From left: board chair Kim McKinley, CAO John Miceli, GECDSB director of education Erin Kelly, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee Ron LeClair.

DiCarlo said the location is close to the downtown area and keeps students close to downtown businesses. It also enables many students to continue to walk to school, he noted.

The mayor called it “incredible” news and gave his thanks to the school board officials.

(UPDATE – As for the fate of the pool, tennis courts and baseball diamonds, DiCarlo told the RTT Wednesday afternoon: “All of these amenities are being considered in the context of the parks master plan and where they will be located.”)

Erin Kelly, director of education with the Greater Essex County District School Board, said the board has selected an architect and will be moving forward with the design process. She believed they would be able to combine the two schools and meet the needs of all the students.

Kelly said they will try and get a shovel in the ground as soon as possible.

“There’s a lot of decisions to be made,” she noted.

CAO John Miceli said the town is “really excited” because of the fact the new school will provide additional opportunities for the municipality. Additional community use could arise with the new school and programming could be developed for after-school hours.

The Ontario government has already put $24.3-million towards the new public high school. As for the current building, Miceli indicated the town has its eyes on it and the board has its ears open for those plans.

“It’s in a strategic location in the Town of Amherstburg,” said Miceli. “The board is willing to listen.”

The CAO added: “There’s more to come.”

Miceli also thanked the public board’s administration for working with the town to arrive at the agreement.

Ron LeClair, trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle, indicated there are opportunities for co-operative education that will be within walking distance for students.

“This is wonderful news for the board and the Town of Amherstburg,” he said. “This is a win-win for the board and the town.”

While admitting “I can’t wait to get a shovel in the ground,” LeClair also said they have to complete the design phase first.

Councillor Leo Meloche noted the importance of the school to the community, and said parents and students alike appreciate the effort. Councillor Diane Pouget also offered praise to the public board for working with the town.

“It’s a special spot for many of us,” she said.

Pouget added there is work being done that would eventually allow for over 1,700 building lots to be created in town, but Kelly noted they have to build based on the students they currently have. If an addition were needed in the future, the board could seek further funding from the province, she suggested.

Councillor Rick Fryer said the new school’s inclusion of skilled trades for students is important and called it “an excellent idea.”

The announcement to sell 15 of the 27 acres in Centennial Park to the public board was met with applause by those in attendance at Monday night’s meeting.

Jr. Bulldogs show heart in season-ending loss

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Bulldogs junior football team may not have won a game this season, but the coaches still saw progress this season.

The Bulldogs lost to the Sandwich Sabres 34-10 last Tuesday afternoon at Centennial Park to finish the 2017 WECSSAA junior football season 0-6. The Sabres did all of their scoring in the first half and led 34-3. General Amherst took some pride in winning the second half, as they outscored Sandwich 7-0.

Austin Farmer (22, left) outruns a pair of Sandwich defenders during a run in the second half Oct. 31 at Centennial Park.

The Sabres started quick with a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. After recovering the ensuing onside kick, Sandwich scored again on a 32-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-0.

The Sabres scored three touchdowns in the second quarter thanks to a 39-yard run, a 13-yard run and a 22-yard pass with a fourth touchdown called back on a penalty. The Sabres also had another major called back due to a penalty in the third quarter.

Will Jones booted a 30-yard field goal for the Bulldogs in the second quarter with Anthony McCarthy scoring from a yard out in the fourth quarter. The latter touchdown was set up thanks to strong running from Austin Farmer on that drive.

Preston Muzzin (84) makes a catch in the first half of General Amherst’s Oct. 31 game versus Sandwich. The Sabres won 34-10.

Quarterback Emmitt Rosati missed the game due to his lingering ankle injury.

“We started a lot of Grade 9’s to give them experience,” said General Amherst head coach Dino Rosati. “They did well.”

The Bulldogs knew they were out of the playoffs, Rosati added, as they had to win the previous week’s game versus Catholic Central to have a shot. Despite being eliminated from playoff contention, Rosati said Amherst still played hard.

“They played right until the end,” he said.

Members of the senior team helped with the coaching, he added, with Emmitt also helping to coach as he called the plays on offense.

General Amherst quarterback Nolan Crain (82) throws a pass during General Amherst’s loss to the Sandwich Sabres Oct. 31 at Centennial Park.

Rosati said about 12-14 players are eligible to return next season. The junior Bulldogs featured a lot of Grade 9 players that were new to football this season.

“I think we learned a lot,” said Rosati. “We had a good number of inexperienced Grade 9’s.”

With a year of football under their belts, Rosati said the Bulldogs have a “good chance to be successful” next season.