This past weekend was Waterdown’s 3rd annual Oh Canada! Ribfest, and not coincidentally, this is my 3rd annual article about it. I find writing these articles helpful, since last year’s article helped me remember which ribbers we especially liked or didn’t like. In previous years, there were six ribbers but this year, there was an extra one. There were actually two new ones, but we lost Fire Island. This year, we had:
Kentucky Smokehouse – These guys were new, and I have to say we weren’t that impressed. The ribs weren’t very meaty, and there wasn’t much sauce. What sauce there was wasn’t bad though. Maybe we got a bad batch, because these guys finished second in people’s choice best ribs and people’s choice best sauce.
Boss Hog – My favourites last year, and this year I’d have to put them second. The ribs were very meaty, and there was lots of sauce. The sauce was somewhat sweet but not too sweet. Not as smoky as last year. These guys swept the awards: best judged ribs, people’s choice best ribs, and people’s choice best sauce.
Tennessee Fatbacks – Another new one and again, no big deal. The ribs were OK, the sauce was OK, but nothing to write home about.
Ribs Royale – Didn’t think much of these guys last year, though lots of other people seemed to like them. This year, again I heard lots of good things but they just didn’t do it for me. The ribs were OK but didn’t “fall off the bone” as with the other ribbers. The sauce was interesting though – tangy but not sweet. Had a kick, but wasn’t exactly spicy. Hard to describe, but pretty good. They got 3rd place in the best judged ribs.
Camp 31 – The ribs were really good, and the sauce wasn’t bad. Had a bit of a kick and wasn’t as sweet as last year.
Silver Bullet – Our favourite. The ribs were really good, with an awesome spicy sauce. For the second straight year, we bought a bottle to bring home. For the first time, we also tried a pulled pork sandwich from these guys, and that was fantastic. They got second in judged ribs and third in both people’s choice best ribs and people’s choice best sauce.
Bone Daddy – we didn’t get there. Really liked them last year, but this year the timing just didn’t work out.
Once again we volunteered as a family, first on Saturday afternoon from 3pm-7pm and then again on Monday from 11am-3pm. We originally signed up to be in the recycling tent, just like last year, but we said we’d go wherever they needed us. On Saturday they needed people at parking, so we stood at the entrance to the parking lot and collected money. This worked out pretty well, and the boys both got into it and were very helpful, collecting money and making change and everything. Despite the “No in and out privileges” sign, lots of people asked if they could leave and come back later. If they had a decent reason for it (my kid is sick and I’m going to drop him off at his grandparents place and come right back, I brought my dog who is not allowed in the park so I have to take him home) and they could be back in five minutes or so, I generally let it go, but there were people who wanted to come back “in an hour or two”. Come on people, get real. And a couple of people didn’t want to pay at all, so they just turned around and left. One guy said he was just going to the skate park and not the Ribfest, but I told him too bad, this was Ribfest parking. He said OK and drove into the parking lot, saying he was just going to turn around, and never came back out. The number of selfish jerks out there who just try to take advantage of everyone really amazes and disappoints me sometimes.
Anyway, on Monday, they split the four of us up, and Gail and Nicky went to one of the far entrances to the park and counted people coming and going, while Ryan and I were given the most glamorous of volunteer jobs, the one everyone strives for: walking around the park in 32° heat for four hours picking up garbage off the ground. After an hour or so Ryan was pretty hot and tired and was starting to get grumpy, so I sent him to sit with Gail and continued by myself. Have to say, there were an amazing number of cigarette butts lying around, considering smoking was not allowed anywhere in the park. One of the Rotary Club guys who was in charge of volunteers stopped me after about 3 hours, told me I was doing a great job, and then asked “Hey, would you like a beer?” Needless to say, I took him up on his offer – did I mention it was 32° and humid? It was only a ten minute break or so before I continued with my work, but man, that was nice.
I have but one complaint about the whole event – and I also heard it from a number of other people I know who went – and that’s the beer selection. A local microbrewery called Nickel Brook was the only beer choice, though they did have a couple of types of coolers (Smirnoff Ice being one). Not a huge fan of the Nickel Brook. This year I only had one, which was an organic beer. (Yes, I’m the last guy who’s likely to buy anything organic, but this was the one that the Rotary guy, Nick, bought me.) It wasn’t bad, but I won’t be partaking again. Once again though, I did enjoy Nickel Brook’s root beer.
One thing that was new this year was the fireworks on Canada Day, which lasted a good 20 minutes and were excellent. There was no world record attempt this year, though maybe that’s for the best. Last year we set a new record for “most people singing simultaneously live on a radio broadcast”, with about 650 people. As it turns out, the record was smashed a week later in England, when 3,885 people sang at Wembley Arena. It’s kind of too bad that so many people worked to make that happen, and then we only held the record for a week. Oh well.
Once again this year, snaps go out to the Rotary Club, the sponsors, and the rest of the volunteers who made this great event happen. Looking forward to next year already!