Canada’s Largest Ribfest this weekend!
Yee-haw! One of my favorite festivals will soon be here, when the air is filled with smoky flavour and Burlington residents and visitor trek down to Spencer Smith Park for good food and entertainment! Every year, my family and I head to the park on the Friday night of the festival where we meet friends from Hamilton, Toronto and Mississauga and savour the last dog days of summer. We find getting to the park early on Friday often avoids the big crowds and we can also take advantage of the coupons in the programme if we get there before 5!
Our group of Ribfest fanatics now have a system. We get ribs from a variety of vendors that we can share and try as many as possible and then vote on our favorites. This is serious business now – online research is done in advance, notes are taken when we sample, all to ensure we find that perfect, meaty, mouthful. And just like other things in life, some like them spicy, others sweet and saucy. This year we will have 18 ribbers to choose from, so it will be a real challenge with old favourites like Boss Hogs, Jack on the Bone, Camp 31 and Billy Bones.
This is the 18th year the Rotary Club of Burlington-Lakeshore is hosting this end of summer celebration.
Here are a few interesting facts. Did you know that Ribfest:
• Raised $2.6 million for local, national and international charities over the past 17 years
• Sells more than 150,000 lbs of ribs over the 4 day weekend
• Has been recognized with a Tourism Burlington Ambassador Award in 2005
• Diverts 86% of the waste or garbage at the event and has received Best Greening of a Festival or Event Award from Festivals and Events Ontario for the past 3 years
• Has an Artisan Fair featuring over 50 vendors
• Is not just for big kids – it has a Kids Zone with bouncers and childrens entertainment
• Attracted over 150,000 people last year
There always seems to something a little magical about watching live music by the lake. This year there is musical entertainment on 2 stages so there will be lots of magic in the air. The East Stage (closer to Brant St.) has Blues singer J.W. Jones on Friday night, country singers Kenny Munshaw and Beverley Mahood (love her new song Hope & Gasoline) headline Saturdays line-up, Sunday Downchild Blues band, Chuck Jackson and the Cobra Kings hit the stage. On the West Stage (closer to Maple Ave) they have acts such as blues singer Steve Burnside with the Marquis, Checkerboard Floors, country artist Rob Kirkham & Neon Rain and the classic rock of Freedom Train.
Since I have attended this festival for a lot of years I have a few tips for you to help you enjoy the experience:
• Avoid the traffic and hunting for a parking space and take the shuttle from Mapleview Centre– $2 cost goes to the Hospital Auxiliary – a great cause and convenient!
• The accessible entrance is near the west end of the park by the Lady of the Lake Fountain
• Leave your four legged friends at home – it is not fun for your pet or other event goers when Sparky gets tired and cranky in the heat
• Bring cash for ribs – ATM’s are on site but they could have long line-ups
• Spend some time downtown at the shops while you are here – pick up some cupcakes, artisan bread, chocolates etc. to go with those ribs
• Bring a hat, sunscreen, bathing suit for kids who want to cool off at the Water Jets
• Stop in and see us at the Visitor Information Centre – we are open from 9 – 4 p.m. and have Ribfest programmes, coupons, maps etc.
I always find Labour Day weekend somewhat bittersweet, with the warm days and cool nights and the days getting shorter. Attending Ribfest helps ease that transition from summer to fall and always holds fond memories for our gang. I can’t wait to show them the new pier and enjoy a gelato at the end of a perfect day!