From Canada Day to Independence Day – Rib-fest in Toronto is our Fireworks
July 5, 2010 10 Comments
This past week-end was the 11th annual edition of Canada’s Largest Canada day celebration.
Hosted by the Rotary Club of Etobicoke Over 100,000 people go through the gates to enjoy fantastic ribs and entertainment from 13 Professional International Ribbers from both Canada and The US. Joining them are 20 food and 70 specialty Vendors along with a midway for children of all ages.
I attended on Saturday July 3rd along with my friend Joe Simeunovich, both of us having a longing for some good BBQ and this day did not disappoint.
First off it was a fantastic day weather wise, we arrived around noon. ( the location is a huge area called Centennial Park which is just south of Pearson International Airport in Toronto)
Parking was free and generous spots were available, though we parked about a 3 minute walk away we could of found spots a lot closer as well.
Admission to the park was also free, with the option of donating a toonnie ( $2.00 Canadian coin) which is given to that big Pink Pig pictured below, and a couple of the 600 volunteers handed out programs at the door and had change available for those that only had bills in their pockets.
As soon as we entered the grounds there was a young lady having an animal balloon hat made for her by a fun gentleman that was entertaining us right away.
An unsuspecting Joe posed for this picture next to this sign which had me chuckling to myself.
We were drawn to the booth by some wonderful Latin music that had us in the mood in an instant.
What the sign was actually for was for this pig that was being roasted during the day to be given away at the end of the night in a draw. Another first for me seeing a Whole Hog being cooked at a Rib-fest.
Generally a rule of thumb that a lot of people use is that get in line for ribs that have the most people waiting in line, but Joe liked the fact that Bad Wolf BBQ had the nice Music going and at that moment no one was in line there so he bought a 1/2 rack of their ribs for $13.00, we both shared the ribs and they were wonderful the sauce was a perfect blend of sweet and smoke flavour and the meat was nicely cooked., while eating those we got in line at Crabbys BBQ shack out of London Ontario (there are a fair number of teams that come out of that area and do the Ontario circuit)
This time I bought and we had about a 15 minute wait in line with maybe 10 people in front of us but the time went by quickly as we chatted with a father and his two daughters behind us. This is a nice thing about Rib-fests, that people are friendly and everyone just wants to enjoy the day and pig out on summertime food (yes pun intended)
After getting our ribs we stopped by Pappy’s Original Soda Pop Stand where we both ordered a mug of Cherry Soda which comes in a tin Mug that you get to keep for $7.00 and you also get some refreshing ice and then you pull the tap on your favorite flavour, as you can see it is large mug and you get your monies worth as the soda is refreshing and the perfect taste, though we did find that later in the day when we went for a refill (only $3.00) Joe tried the Orange Soda which was to sweet for his liking. For my refill I tried the Mountain Mist (similar to Mountain Due) which was also refreshing but I think I would stick with the Cherry.
Our Next stop was the “Bob’s Bloomin Onions” booth, I have had a Bloomin Onion once before 2 years ago in Bomanville, and today a lot of the visitors were getting this wonderful snack, though snack may not be the right word since the serving is large enough to feed a whole family!
A Bloomin Onion is cut in away and dipped in a batter then deep-fried which opens it up like a flower and served with a wonderful dipping sauce for $8.00, extra sauce for only .50 extra, While in line the lady behind me had this hair style that I told her was perfect since it reminded me of what we were about to get. Just have a look for your self. I spoke with Kat while we waited for our orders and she had a fun personality, here with some family members having a great time.
I also had the pleasure of sitting down for a moment with Bob Steckly the owner operator of this Bloomin Onion that is based out of Fort Erie, he has been running it for the past 6 years or so, Bob told me that the Bloomin Onion started about 15 -20 years ago at an Outback Steakhouse location in Florida and has become a staple food product at Rib-fests ever since. Mr. Steckly was happy to see the superb weather of this season since 2009 was a very rainy summer and was not the best of seasons for his bank account.
Camp 31 is one Ribber that I have seen at every Rib-fest so far this season, and as I read on their sign the were voted to have the best ribs at Woodbine Beach Rib-fest that I reviewed just a couple of weeks ago. which can be read here
Woodbine only had 5 Ribbers compared to 13 here at Centennial Park but the overall rib-fest at the Beach was a complete success.
Camp 31 had out their Sauces for sale and one thing I liked about most of the Ribbers here was that they allowed for samples to be tasted of the various sauces for those that wanted to bring a taste of the Rib-fest home with them to use on their back yard cookouts.
All of a sudden Joe calls me over to try some BBQ Mushrooms that he had bought from Jack on the Bone, and I was blown away
After trying the Mushrooms Joe and I chatted with the son of the owner of Jack on the Bone Jamey Groetz out of Massilon, Ohio.
Jamie was on the front line bringing people towards their boot with free samples of their Pulled Pork and sauce to try, and it was working well for them as their line was getting longer and longer. I was very impressed with Jamey, he was very friendly and knows his business and took the time to answer all questions with interesting answers.
The coolest thing about Jack on the bone is exactly what the name says, just before serving whether it is Ribs or Mushrooms they have a bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey with a spray attachment and the food gets a healthy spritz of Jack, the alcohol evaporates away at 100 degrees but it leaves behind a splendid taste sensation!
Having been at the park for close to 4 hours now, and the heat of the day was staring to take its toll, but there were a number of ways to cool down with plenty of water and Ice cream type products to refresh you.
Even though when I snapped this picture the Horn Dawgs Smokin BBQ team was also enjoying a few minutes of well deserved break time, they were getting ready for the next rush of customers, I did not even know til now that the Horn Dawgs are based out of Oshawa, I hope to have a chat with them when they are in the Uxbridge Rib-fest coming up July 16th weekend.
The day was a complete success, lots of happy visitors, fantastic food and booths and vendors that had fun with customers that were gladly opening their wallets, and it is worth every penny.
Next up, there are Rib-fests to be held in Mississauga with 14 Ribbers and Uxbridge with 6 Ribbers both Rib-fests to be held July 16th – 18th 2010 so if your anywhere close to either city make plans to attend.
London Ontario and Scarborough will hold their Rib-fests July 29th – Aug 2nd
And I am looking forward to when Rib-fest comes to my home city September 11th -13th 2010
If you’re not local to any of these areas and you want to find a rib-fest to attend try this handy link I created just for you….