Wednesday, 1 September 2010


"Snifff......SNIIIIIIIIIIIIIFFFFFF..... do you smell that.... the wood smoke....caramelizing BBQ sauce.....meat on the grill......mmmmmm it can only mean one thing....RIBFEST!!!" Ricky P.

Wow, it's been over a month, but the smells, the tastes and the excitement that is London Ribfest is still fresh on my mind. An event my friends and I have been going to for many years, and a second year being run by Festivals Ontario, I have to say Ribfest 2010 was the best yet. And, I was honoured and excited to return as a judge, a little wiser and even more eager to delve into the world of BBQ.

There are many ribfests, but London's is quite special (at least to me). Not only is it one of the largest in North America, it has free admission, lots of ribs, over 100 live performances, shopping, cooking demonstrations, face painting, a home show, karaoke, a menagerie of cultural cuisines, rides and fun fun fun. And with major efforts to bolster environmentalism, the festival was able to cut the waste in half from previous years. Don't forget raising money for charity too.

The event is held at Victoria Park in the heart of the Forrest City. It's a huge area right downtown with lots of trees and room for a ton of vendors. The crowds are big, but you don't feel like your squished together. And there is something wonderful about walking through the park and smelling the wafting BBQ smoke. Plus on an extremely hot August long weekend, the trees provide some much needed shade.

There were big crowds at all the rib competitors, salivating and waiting for a piece of smokey goodness. It's a carnivore's dream, and I never want to wake up.

There are 10 'ribbers' teams competing for top rib honours with names like Texas Rangers or Kentucky Smokehouse that evoke that Southern BBQ feel. The names are great, but they are all Canadian talent working out there.

Each team is out there promoting their brands and hawking their ribs. One group had a young guy and a bull horn going up and down the crowds sounding the call for their ribs. Another had young women dressed like Daisy Duke encouraging hungry patrons to try their ribs. Then you have the characters putting the ribs on the grill at the last minute with another mop of sauce and some flames kissing the meat. What a show!

One of my favourite vendors is Boss Hogg, who have a Dukes of Hazzard theme going on. For looks, how can you not like a big fire pit with their name cut right in manned by a guy in a straw cowboy hat and bandanna?

LJ grabbed a pulled pork sandwich from Boss Hawgs. Chalk full of tender pork, she found it a bit sweet for her liking. To me, that's how I like my PP: sweet, saucy and really messy.

Family Shows Canada has really raised the profile of the event. It really is a family event. One blocked off street had kids rides like a giat rocket, gravitron, and a fun house.

There are hundreds of vendors around the park selling all sorts of goods and services. Above is a paint ball booth, and a painted flower/vase group. What I like is that it is a mix of some big business, and smaller independent groups as well.

And the food. My goodness the food. Yes, ribs are the highlight, but want something to go with it? Have a blooming onion! And watch the lady make the special blossom from onion right before your eyes, like this kid above and to the right.

You still want more? How about a chicken wing trailer? Yes please. Corn dog? Uh huh. Fries? Sure. Cotton Candy? Definitely. Sushi? I guess so . . .

Of course after eating lots of pork you have to have something for dessert. And I say go awesome or go home. We went with awesome. Deep fried Mars bars. Wow. I have heard about these but never dared to go there, until this day. A frozen Mars bar on a stick is dipped in batter, deep fried, then rolled in powdered sugar. I might have had a heart attack, but oh my goodness, the melty caramel and chocolate, the soft but slightly crispy batter. Best carney food ever.

With all of this you need to have a drink. How about an overpriced Slush Puppy? Or the awesome dude chopping coconuts in an action pose? What about lemonade from a giant lemon?

Of course I'm a sucker for pop, and the old timey/prospector stand of Pappy's Olde Fashion Soda Pop Co. With 7 different flavours, I had a lot of fun experimenting. It was expensive, but I did get to:

a) test out the flavours before pouring from a barrel my choice
b) keep the metal cup (which I still use) and
c) get a free refill.

Sweet. Dag nabbit!

This is a great festival that just seems to get bigger and better. Great food, a commitment to the environment, lots to do, lots of money raised for Childcan and a whole lotta fun. And ribs, can't forget the ribs. Follow the links below to read more about Judging the event, and for our own backyard ribfest.

1. London Ribfest 2010 Judging: Ribs, Sauces and Wings
2. 2nd Annual Backyard BBQ Ribfest

London Ribfest


Chris said...

Fun post but ribs were involved, how could it not be?

But the fair is going on here right now and as such, we made corn dogs tonight. Freaking yum

Scheming about how to do that mars bar at home.

Lord of the Wings said...

@Chris - Exactly, how could a rib post not be fun! Homemade corn dogs sound good. And let me know if you figure out the mars bar . . .