A Ribfest in Every Town
August 1, 2015 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Ontario has hit peak ribfest. This is a distinctly heartland phenomenon: More than two-million people will visit one of the province’s 65 ribfests this summer. (There are only three dedicated ribfests in British Columbia; Alberta has two.)
The surprising politics of Ontario's growing ribfest industry.
posted by parudox (27 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I refuse to accept "ribber" as word; I can't, I won't.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 7:07 PM on August 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


The Beef Behind Ribs

Everyone knows ribs are pork.
posted by standardasparagus at 7:15 PM on August 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


I reject the idea that Canada has a single "Heartland" and that said place would be in Ontario. We are a federation of regions. The press in our country is increasingly reflecting Ontario as (English) Canada - see the KD discussion.
posted by Zedcaster at 7:23 PM on August 1, 2015 [21 favorites]


On a less grumpy note - any story about yummy grilling can't be all bad.
posted by Zedcaster at 7:30 PM on August 1, 2015


A few years back somebody tried to run a "Baconfest" as a fundraiser for a local historic site. We went and found it to be much smaller than advertised. They explained to us that a number of the vendors they had lined up had been threatened with expulsion from the local ribfest if they also participated in Baconfest. (They were in different months of the year.)
posted by synecdoche at 7:38 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Posts on KD, vowel shifts, and now the Ribfest. In the land of Metafilter, August 1 is the new Canada Day!
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 8:03 PM on August 1, 2015 [14 favorites]


Several Rotary ribfests, such as those in Burlington and Toronto, are expanding to include full-time salespeople and celebrity chefs.

If you're paying yourself and only donating the "profits", while asking other people to potentially go into debt paying fees and threatening their livelihoods to ensure they only participate in your own festivals, it doesn't seem so much like a charity any more.
posted by XMLicious at 8:14 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, the guy running these is a for profit enterprise. Do we side with the potentially sketchy charitable organization, or the pure, "disrupting" capitalist?

Also: that's a lot of "ribfests".

Also also: drinking a beer, eating ribs, and listening to 40-year olds play Zep covers doesn't sound like a bad afternoon. Do they play Kashmir?
posted by Windopaene at 8:26 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I reject the idea that Canada has a single "Heartland" and that said place would be in Ontario. We are a federation of regions.

I agree. In British Columbia at the beginning of the 2000's, the newly-elected Gordon Campbell government tried to rebrand what has traditionally been known as the BC Interior (broadly speaking anything lying north of Hope on the Fraser River up to Prince George) as the "Heartlands."

The new name never stuck, not in the least because while Campbell was singing the praises of the "heartlands" (which were presumably morally superior than the decadent Lower Mainland and even more sinister Victoria), his government did a whack job on regionally-delivered services, gutting a lot of infrastructure.

"The Interior" makes a lot of sense, because the mill and mining towns of the interior of the province supply the raw product that powers Vancouver's crude and unsophisticated port economy.

It's kind of like the rest of Canada. There is no heartland - just a hinterland that supplies the cities with raw material.
posted by Nevin at 8:42 PM on August 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


None of this will stop me from eating yummy yummy ribs at Thompson Park in Scarborough this weekend. It's a Rotary one.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:26 PM on August 1, 2015


The Canadian imagination of American barbecue culture is wild. Do you all really imagine Pensacola as the place good barbecue comes from?
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 9:38 PM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]



The Canadian imagination of American barbecue culture is wild. Do you all really imagine Pensacola as the place good barbecue comes from?
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 9:38 PM on August 1 [−] [!]


I spotted "www.fireislandnybbq.com" in the photo but the URL doesn't work.

Here's the description of the stall though:
Fire Island New York’s claim to fame is they are the “King Of Sauces” They offer Manhattan Mild, New York Honey Garlic, and their famous Empires Fire!!! The southern way to cooking ribs is with hickory wood, Fire Island New York uses Hickory and Applewood making, giving their ribs a flavourful explosion! Fire Island New York is new to Canada , and in recent years has won several 1st place awards!

Their logo has a gorilla because King Kong and lots of flames because Fire Island.
posted by Bwithh at 10:13 PM on August 1, 2015


The Canadian imagination of American barbecue culture is wild.

I mean, we have pizza chains called Boston Pizza and New Orleans Pizza.
posted by parudox at 10:13 PM on August 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


On the other hand, the guy running these is a for profit enterprise. Do we side with the potentially sketchy charitable organization, or the pure, "disrupting" capitalist?

A charity innovating to the point of having salesmen and engaging in monopolistic practices seems a bit more "disruptive" than one more brand of food festivals.
posted by XMLicious at 10:41 PM on August 1, 2015


Fire Island New York’s claim to fame is they are the “King Of Sauces”

Hm. What a palpable lack of irony.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:47 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Intriguing. Very interested to see if "ribfests" spread west. (Presumably by means of Red River Carts in wagon trains.)
posted by Kevin Street at 11:32 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, I know at least half a dozen guys who spent their younger days visiting Fire Island and could probably claim to be kings of some kind of sauce or other.
posted by koeselitz at 2:37 AM on August 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


The St. Catharines event mentioned in the article is currently in full swing just down the street. The appeal of the Ribfest escapes me. I walk past and see families eating overpriced pork out of styrofoam, sitting in a picnic table farm, a few yards from a hundred portable toilets.
posted by davebush at 4:49 AM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ha, I remember lining up in the rain for that first Ribfest in Burlington. That was an interesting article; I had wondered about the industry as it bloomed over ontario.
posted by saucysault at 5:29 AM on August 2, 2015


The appeal of the Ribfest escapes me.

It's not fine dining, right? However, whatever it is, it's pretty hard wired.
posted by Devonian at 5:41 AM on August 2, 2015


Huh. I live next door in Quebec and had no idea that ribs were such a big deal in Ontario. The closest equivalent here is probably a méchoui. A guy shows up in a truck towing an industrial size roasting thingy and takes the day to roast a whole pig, maybe another big hunk of meat as well. Everyone starts with tomato soup from styrofoam cups before moving on to the main event. But I've seen this more at family events - weddings, big birthdays and anniversaries, not as a fundraiser. The article doesn't mention moves east so I guess the two solitudes of bbq will continue for a while.
posted by Cuke at 6:26 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I reject the idea that Canada has a single "Heartland" and that said place would be in Ontario.
I agree with you - there is no such thing as a single Canadian Heartland. But I'd like to point out one thing - that article is talking about Southern Ontario as the Heartland. That's, in my mind, even worse then saying all of Ontario is the Heartland.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:55 AM on August 2, 2015


listening to 40-year olds play Zep covers doesn't sound like a bad afternoon.
The one I went to a couple weeks ago, frankly a pretty lousy experience, had a band of high schoolers playing mid-nineties rock. When I left they were playing the theme from Friends.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:59 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


So are ribfests by definition too large and corporate to fit the type of dinners asked about in this AskMe? Or would a small town church have a ribfest to raise money?

What's the big feast in your area?
posted by MsMolly at 8:36 AM on August 2, 2015


There was a rib fest in the Old Port this year and there's been a proliferation of "American BBQ" places of late in Montreal too.

They're decent but not great in my opinion, but I have friends who rave about them.
posted by Maugrim at 11:46 AM on August 2, 2015


The thunderstorm put paid to our Scarborough Ribfest visit today. Just as well; we have guests from St Louis and Kansas City, who were looking forward to grilling the “Kansas City” ribbers on their local MO knowledge.
posted by scruss at 7:12 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kansas City is all about the burnt ends these bays...
posted by Windopaene at 9:09 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


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