Oh Canada! Ribfest


Ribfest Waterdown held its first annual Oh Canada! Ribfest this past weekend. There were six “ribbers” selling not only ribs but chicken and pulled pork, and each one sold bottles of their custom BBQ sauce as well. Some had other sides like beans, cole slaw, and corn bread. There were other places selling Bloomin’ Onions and Spiral Spuds, as well as pitas, roasted yams, corn-on-the-cob, and your standard nachos, burgers, dogs, and fries. And don’t forget the ice cream and mini-donuts. And the beer! They had beer and coolers from a local micro-brewery, Nickel Brook. I tried the Green Apple Pilsner on Thursday, which tasted kind of like beer mixed with apple cider. Doesn’t really sound that good, but I liked it. It’s kind of like Corona for me – I wouldn’t buy a case of it, but once in a while, on a hot summer day (like today), it’s very nice. On Sunday, I tried their regular pilsner, which I wasn’t too thrilled with. But I also tried their draft root beer, which was very different from regular A&W or Barq’s root beer – almost had a black liquorice taste to it. That stuff was good, and surprisingly Gail, who likes neither black liquorice nor root beer, liked it too.

I'm on a horse.Besides the food, there was a stage where kids from local dance schools showed their talent, a bunch of local bands played, and at night on Thursday, they dropped down a huge screen and showed How To Train Your Dragon. There was a little midway with kids rides, and a bunch of local vendors set up booths as well. On Canada Day, they had a mountie present for a “Citizenship Court”, as a number of local people became brand new Canadian citizens. Nothing says Canada like a mountie in full uniform, except maybe a mountie in full uniform on a horse. Holding a Tim Horton’s cup.

The ribfest was held at Memorial Park in Waterdown, which is about 1½ km from our house, so we walked there and back – three times. (Well, two times. We drove on Sunday when it was 35° outside.) We went for lunch on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. There were ballots for voting on the ribbers, and we wanted to be informed voters, so we made sure we tried them all before voting. Plus the ribs were so good, we just had to keep going back. Good thing dental floss is cheap – I’ve gone through an awful lot of it in the past few days.

There were six ribbers showcasing their wares, and you could vote in each of two categories: ribs and sauce. The ribbers were:

Fire Island – Ribs: pretty good. Sauce: excellent. The sauce was more smoky and had a bit more of a bite than the others. All four of us chose this as our favourite sauce. We had BBQ sauce on the ribs, but we had a sample of their honey-garlic sauce as well (zingy!), and it was so good that we bought a bottle.

Boss Hog – Ribs: Awesome. Sauce: sweet. The meat just fell off the bones, and even the ribs near the end of the rack weren’t dry at all. My vote for best ribs, and Nicky’s too.

Silver Bullet – Ribs: Very good. Sauce: tangy. Gail’s favourite ribs.

Camp 31 – Ribs: Very good. Sauce: tangy. Similar to Silver Bullet. [Warning: web site plays music.]

Bone Daddy – Ribs: Awesome. Sauce: excellent. For me, these guys had the second-best ribs and the second-best sauce. Ryan’s vote for best ribs.

Hawgs Gone Wild – Ribs: not bad. Sauce: sweet. The ribs were OK, but kind of dry. Their corn bread was very good and we got two big pieces for $1 (or more accurately, we got eight big pieces for $4). We had the ribs on Thursday, but went back on Sunday for more corn bread. [Warning: web site contains no information whatsoever. Interestingly, it was designed by the same people who did the Camp 31 site. Hmmm…]

The ribfest had its own web site, which could have used some more work – lots of typos and spelling errors. Also, when some pages contain things like “check back later to find out more information” or “we will have a list of events here” during the event, you know the web site people haven’t been keeping up. There’s a list of the ribbers, but it’s not up-to-date either – two of the ones listed on the web site aren’t there, and Camp 31 and Hawgs Gone Wild aren’t listed at all. But if my biggest complaint about an event is that their web site isn’t up to snuff, that’s not too bad.

Big kudos and many thanks to the Rotary Club and all the volunteers for all their hard work! This event was not only a lot of fun for our family, but great for our community, and we hope to see it return next year and for many years in the future. Gail volunteered on Saturday night for a few hours, and next year we’re all planning on volunteering for various shifts. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be at Joe Sams park next year, which is much bigger than Memorial Park but further north. It’s not walkable from the Waterdown core, so parking will be a much bigger issue. Perhaps there will be shuttle busses available from “downtown” up to the park. They couldn’t get a license to have fireworks at Memorial Park but they should be able to at Joe Sam’s, so hopefully there will be fireworks next year. I’m already looking forward to it!

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