BY JAMES FW THOMPSON
I don’t like ribs.
Let me say that again: I don’t like ribs. In fact, when RibFest first came to Cape Breton two years ago, I kind of went as a joke. Because I don’t like ribs. Get it? No? I don’t really either.
However, when I got there, I learned that it was not just all about ribs! If you’ve never been to one, picture it like this: imagine a giant block-party barbecue. Only, now imagine that the block is all of the CBRM. This year the event is expecting more than 35,000 rib-fans, so it’s a really, really big block party.
And it really is just a big, friendly barbecue. Last year when I went (not as a joke at all, but as a fan—they really won me over the first year) a lady in front of me asked me if I had “the coupon.” When I said no, she handed me three! Three! One for me, and two for friends (which just became me going back twice more, but I could have given them to friends). Very friendly, very welcoming crowd. And the crowd is huge. Really long line-ups can make for a pretty long wait, but there’s musical entertainment from bands such as the Privateers and Pretty Archie. Plus, it’s taking place in the lovely Open Hearth Park, so you can just enjoy the outdoors and sunshine if you’re so inclined.
This year, regular favourites are returning: Silver Bullet, Camp 31, Billy Bones BBQ, Crabby’s BBQ, and Texas Rangers. As always, rib-fans (let’s call them Rib-Heads, because they deserve a title, really) get to vote on favourite chicken, ribs, and sauce. The sauce is really good from all the vendors, so that’s a tough call.
In addition to the barbecue-ables, there are plenty of side dishes, including the return of Beaver Tails! Last year when they came, they sold out every day! Then they came again for Action Week, and sold out then too! Yes, Cape Bretoners love their ribs, but man do they ever love Beaver Tails!
If the lure of fire-grilled meat and delicious Beaver Tails isn’t enough to entice you into heading down to Open Hearth this weekend, then perhaps this will: last year RibFest (along with their sponsors) donated $70,000 to Hospice Palliative Care. One of the major sponsors is Destination Membertou, and Membertou Chief Terry Paul says, “Through Ribfest, greater access to care and services is available for our community.” So, simply by attending you are helping our community; access to delicious meat is just a bonus!
So, head on out, stuff your face, and feel good about doing it; it’s helping at least two good causes: Hospice and your stomach.
I mentioned earlier that I don’t like ribs. When I went the first time, I instead had corn bread, shredded chicken, corn bread, pulled pork, corn bread, sausages, corn bread and corn bread (the corn bread is delicious, but they tend to run out, so make sure you get some early!). Later, after I had eaten pretty much all my options, I tried the ribs. They are actually really good. So, I have to amend my statement:
I don’t like ribs. Except RibFest ribs. They are delicious.
Visit sydneyribfest.com for more information and updates on RibFest, including a full list of sponsors, vendors and musical entertainment.