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Following last weekends "Open Streets" event, the city has indicated it wants to expand the program. Is this a good idea?

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2012-08-26 at 17:55

Great success

By Jamie Smith,
St. Joseph FoundationGrand A Day Draw tickets are now on sale. $1,000 daily draws in November. Grand Prize draw is for $10,000. License #M738339Click Here


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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appalled says:
The food was excellent and even though it seemed pricy at first, a $45 Southern Feast fed 4 of us for lunch with enough left over for another lunch. A few hints to the organizers, there needs to be more shaded areas, more places to buy drinks, and more vendors to serve all the hungry people. We waited about half an hour for our food (on sunday - lineups were double saturday from what I heard). The entertainment was good but there could be a map or something showing what else was avaiable in the area. Other vendors selling arts and crafts or local items would also be good. All in all well worth the visit and judging by the crowds everyone else thought so too. 2 thumbs up!
8/26/2012 6:13:22 PM
Tom Sanderson says:
I'm glad to hear this event was successful. I'm sure thousands enjoyed the feast and activities.
8/26/2012 6:19:37 PM
Drayton lad says:
Too many ribs in an order for 1 person,but left-overs rock also.Seen sooo many people walking away with multiple styro containers for home,beauty :-)
8/26/2012 7:07:51 PM
macdaddy77 says:
My experience was not a good one for this event.
But, it was the first one and I guess seeing as they did not expect the high numbers that they got.
People in Thunder Bay like to eat.
This event can only improve over time, the lines were too long and not moving fast. Perhaps more ribbers will come next year.
This has the makings of being a great annual summer event.
The city should not panic if they need to close a few more streets for a weekend.
Larger centres like Toronto do that every weekend over the summer.
The downtown Thunder Bay is no Yonge Street, but for this town, a little summer excitement does not hurt.
I am just hoping that there are more picnic tables, lines moving faster as it would make it more positive.
But I am not sure if I will attend this.
8/26/2012 7:35:07 PM
ThunderBayOutsider says:
Great job Thunder Bay! New ideas like this are what continue to make your City so wonderful! I wasn't able to make it into town for this one but I will definitely next year and hope it will be even bigger! Congrats to everyone involved
8/27/2012 12:44:10 AM
keiths31 says:
This event was fantastic! I just wish they hadn't booked it the same weekend as the Westfort Street Fair and Murillo Fair. Maybe next time on a slower weekend with not other things going on.

Other than that though it was a great time and great food.
8/27/2012 6:41:38 AM
idontknowitall says:
Wish I had have been in town for this! It sounds like it went very well. One question though - who the heck proof-reads in the office?
8/27/2012 10:05:37 AM
passlake says:
If you've ever had the ribs from Busters BBQ up in Vermillion Bay, you'll agree that it would be great to see them at an upcoming ribfest. I don't know if they have the capacity to, but considering the success of the first year, they might want to look at being a part of this in future years. Blueberry BBQ sauce anyone? mmmmmm:)
8/27/2012 12:07:16 PM
iceman says:
Needs improvement. The ribs were awesome! I am with my family, would be nice to get a beer and sit down. But can't do that, in beer garden kids are not allowed in, why do we even have a beer garden, in the states it would be everywhere, not huddled into one small area.
8/27/2012 12:31:14 PM
bttnk says:
What a fantastic event. Great to hear they will be back next year. Keep bringing festivals to the downtown core.
8/27/2012 1:02:05 PM
T.O.GUY says:
As i stated in a previous story regarding Ribfest , i have been to many of these events in Markham, Oshawa , Peterborough..etc...This event will grow each year here so give it time , more Ribbers will come.Ive seen like 8 Rib trucks and lines are still big. The one thing that the organizers here in TBay could improve on is holding the event where the Bluefest was .All the other Ribfests that i have been to were in a grassy area with trees . On Sunday you could feel that heat coming off the pavement in the Casino parking lot.All in all Thunder Bays first Ribfest was a good event.
8/27/2012 2:46:58 PM
I agree, this event could be held in a little better area, with grass and shade. An asphalt parking lot doesn't make for a relaxing enjoyable environment. I've been to the Ribfest in Kitchener, where it's held at Victoria Park.
8/28/2012 11:01:28 AM
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