RibFest – Over 30,000 people flocked to a converted empty lot across the street from Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School on Pierrefonds Boulevard to enjoy three days of great food, great live music and a whole lot of late summer family fun at the annual Montreal Ribfest, which took place from August 17 to 19.
I have developed a weakness for southern style BBQ throughout my life, which was fortified even further when I experienced – and tasted – genuine BBQ during visits to Nashville, Memphis and Dallas (including Central BBQ in Memphis, which is regarded as one of the best BBQ restaurants in North America). It was my first visit to Ribfest in three years, and sizing up the six gargantuan kiosks where the six visiting ribbers, who came from across the U.S. and Canada, exhibited their passion for cooking BBQ – not to mention being amazed by the displays of their respective multitude of trophies and awards and being tantalized by the overwhelming, delicious, tangy, smoky smells that emanated from their respective grills – I wondered to my myself why did I wait for three whole years to visit Ribfest once again?
It wasn’t the long lines at each kiosk that prolonged my decision as to which ribber I should choose to sample their BBQ wares, but the embarrassment of riches that these six had to offer. The six ribbers (Ribs Royale, The Hogfather, Fatboys Southern Smokehouse, Billy Bones BBQ, Dinosaur BBQ Pit and Camp 31), offered items ranging from, of course, ribs (available in full, half and 1/3-racks), pulled pork, chicken, sausages and sides (i.e., cole slaw and beans). After two or three walkbys and some careful deliberation, I chose to sample the food from Billy Bones BBQ. And it was a decision that I never regretted. I decided on the 1/3-third rack of ribs (four sizeable ribs), which was grilled to perfection and smothered in their award-winning barbecue sauce. The verdict: dee-licious, as the meat was tender and tasty and easily slid off the bone with each bite; and the sauce was so savoury, I spent extra time making sure I stripped each rib bone clean of its meat and sauce and enjoyed every minute of that taste experience. And I wisely topped it off with an order of their freshly-baked southern cornbread that – without exaggeration – was the best cornbread I ever tasted. In fact, I liked it so much, that I ordered another generous portion of their cornbread to take home with me (which was polished off in less than 24 hours).
And for those who are not fans of BBQ, Ribfest also had a variety of kiosks of different types of summertime and picnic-style foods, such as lobster roles, roasted corn on the cob, fried potato spirals, soft ice cream, Beaver Tails, soft drinks and homemade lemonade (where you were to add your own flavours to it from a wide choice of flavoured syrups). And throughout the weekend, Ribfest offered a continuous line-up of 21 local bands and singers such as Olivier Forrest, Space Wizard and Stereo Bling that provided live music as attendees enjoyed their ribs and sides. As well, there were kiosks that represented local crafts, boutiques and businesses offering their respective merchandise and services, plus a children’s play zone with inflated bouncy houses and various fun activities.
Appetites for southern style BBQ food were not the only things that benefitted from this year’s successful Ribfest. Proceeds from the weekend benefitted the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the West Island, a long time volunteer organization that offers vital mentoring services to children who go through difficult and at risk situations.