That’s what Jack Sakellis, also known as “Jack the Ribber”, had to say about the city’s first Ribfest. With more than 20,000 people estimated over three days, it’s more than the London, Ont. rib man ever thought he’d see in Thunder Bay.
“It was surprise for us. We’ve never had such a success with other events, especially in their first year. It takes people a little bit of time to get accustomed to ribfests but I guess here you guys are well informed,” Sakellis said Sunday afternoon through a smile.
Sakellis said he sold thousands of racks of ribs this weekend and almost sold out. He later went on to win best overall ribs.
“It’s unbelievable. Very good crowds,” he said.
While some people said they waited more than an hour ribs, Wendy Tiboni and her family waited only 20 minutes on Sunday. She didn’t mind waiting either. It’s great that the city was trying something different she added.
“It’s nice weather,” she said. “The music’s nice everybody’s in a great mood.”
Waterfront BIA chair Suzan Cooper-Rochon said long lines were a good problem to have because it meant area restaurants were full all weekend. Getting a draw to local businesses was part of why the BIA wanted to organize the ribfest.
“They’ve come out in droves,” she said. “You can see from the lineups.”
Both Cooper-Rochon and Sakellis say it will be on again next year. Sakellis said he hopes to see other booths set up so that artists and other vendors can sell their wares and contribute to the party. He also expects, based on what he’s seen at other festivals, that the event will take over more of the area in the coming years.
“The city and the BIA will not have a choice but to close down a few more streets,” he said. “I’ve seen it happen in other places.”
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