The Ribs Royale BBQ team always keeps an eye on their competition.
“Maybe even more than we keep an eye on our own ribs,” said Gus Sakellis, owner of Ribs Royale, which is based out of Las Vegas.
One of those competitors is his father, Jack Sakellis, better known to many as Jack the Ribber.
The two ribbers are joined by Fat Albert’s and Route 55 at the Waterfront District BIA’s first Ribfest in Thunder Bay this weekend.
Ribs Royale brings hickory and cherry wood smoked ribs to the competition.
“We’re the only team here that’s cooking on charcoal. We feel using wood is too overpowering for the ribs,” Sakellis said, adding they also have a sweet and bold southwest barbeque sauce.
He said his team has been on a roll recently picking up people’s choice and judging awards in the ribfest circuit. Last year they won 10 out of 15 competitions.
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Sakellis is hoping the weather stays sunny this weekend and the crowds come out. He said a lot of people were surprised just by the presentation of the ribbers early Friday afternoon.
“Everybody seeing the banners and trophies, it’s more like a shock and awe that we’ve been seeing so far,” he said.
Ribfest is an event the rib master hopes continues in Thunder Bay for years to come.
Waterfront District BIA chairwoman Suzan Cooper Rochon said they were excited to host the event, located in the OLG Casino parking lot on Park Avenue, this year.
She noticed a lot of people coming out had no idea what to expect.
“They’re walking up and saying ‘wow.’ The smokers are in the front. They’ve got the hickory smoke (going) and they’re cooking the ribs,” she said.
Court Street, which is closed throughout the weekend between Red River Road and Park Avenue, is filled with children’s activities and Saturday the annual Motors and Muscles fundraiser will also be on the site.
Cooper Rochon said people can expect a weekend filled with great entertainment and fall off the bone ribs.
“Leave your belt at home,” she said.
Ribfest runs until 11 p.m. Friday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Pets are discouraged because of the nature event.
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