THUNDER BAY — For over a decade Ribfest has been captivating local carnivores with the best barbecue the area has to offer.
Ribfest, a fundraiser organized by the charity organization Our Kids Count and presenting sponsor Half-Way Motors, is set to return again this weekend. Initially the event was hosted around the casino area and has since moved to the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition grounds to accommodate the growing number of attendees.
“This year we’re bringing it back better than ever,” says event co-chair Emey Hendricks. “This is our largest fundraising event.”
Our Kids Count has organized a cornhole tournament for Ribfest this year, working with the Thunder Bay Cornhole League to host a tournament at the festival. There’s a fee for registration and a Cornhole Tournament trophy will pass on from year to year.
Sleeping Giant Brewery will be hosting a beer tent, with a special brew commemorating the Our Kids Count's 25th anniversary of incorporation and fundraising. There will also be a variety booths with local artisans. The organizers have been sure to add tented and covered areas to accommodate for rain or shade.
The ribbers, Ribs Royale and Dinosaur Smoke House, are obviously bringing people back every year, offering every variety of meat imaginable.
Hendricks highlights the other favourites.
“Mini Donut Shoppe, The Bannock Lady, Cold Stone Creamery, Fox on the Run and Theresa's Italian Food," Hendricks said. "It really has a festival feel to it, and then we’ve also got bands playing. We’ve themed our nights, Friday night is country night, Saturday night is more of a rock feel and Sunday is a variety of different musicians, all local.”
Other food vendors will include the nut-free ice cream creations of Epic Cones, snacks from Twisted Taters, The Poppin' Hut, Kiwanis Club, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Masala Grille.
Funds raised by Our Kids Count go towards community kitchens, parenting/life skills courses, pre/post-natal aid, the emergency food cupboard, big brothers big sisters mentoring, home visiting and counselling. More information about Our Kids Count's services and programs are available on their website.
Hendricks encourages everyone to visit.
“We really want to ramp it up and make it really big this year.”
Our Kids Count is also now hosting a grab and go ribs takeout from the CLE grounds on Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Ribfest runs Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and then Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Entry is free, most activities for kids are also free including the impressive Tiki-themed inflatable island, games and face painting. The Kid’s Zone is open from noon through 6 p.m. For more details and updates go to the Our Kids Count Ribfest webpage.