Two years ago, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran wasn’t sure what a ribfest was.
On a trip to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Ontario some of Basran’s political friends from out east were bragging about their own city’s ribfests but Basran was out of the loop when it came to rib-friendly festivals.
“I said ‘Is it what it sounds like? You just eat ribs? Because that would be awesome,'” said Basran at a press conference to announce Kelowna RibFest 2016 to take place September 16 to 18 this year. “I’m excited to go back and tell them to check out our ribfest.”
RibFest 2016 was announced on Tuesday at Kelowna City Park. It’s described as a family event, free to attend and will include a rib cooking contest with judging by members of the public as well as entertainment in the form of music and a beer garden. Hosted by the Kelowna Sunrise Rotary Club, the event will feature ribs cooked by five renowned ribbers from across Canada.
“This will be a free, let me emphasize free, no admission, three day family-friendly festival which we hope will be the first of many such annual family festivals of fantastic food and fun,” said Bill Reynolds of Sunrise Rotary. “We’re anticipating we will have a minimum of 30,000 people attend so this is a significant event for Kelowna. Some of the ribbers will also offer pulled pork, BBQ chicken along with coleslaw so you will have your choice. They will be competing for the honours of best ribs and best sauce and the public will have the chance to taste them and vote.”
Kelowna RibFest 2016 will not only be a sensation for the senses, it is a charitable event and in this inaugural year, Shoe Bank Canada, the Kelowna-based charity that collects shoes for people in need, will be the charity of choice. People in attendance are asked to bring used shoes to RibFest.
“This is fun for the whole family to enjoy,” said Corinne Johnson of Interior Savings, the title sponsor of the event. “Not only will people be having fun, enjoying great music and salivating over ribs, they will also be helping to build a stronger community. Funds raised from every rib sold, every corn of cob sold, every drink, is money that will go back into this community.”
Though new to Kelowna (and its mayor) ribfests are popular events around Canada and regularly draw big crowds. In Pickering ON, 70,000 attended its RibFest in 2015 while Kamloops hosted 40,000 people and Penticton 20,000 in their respective RibFest events in 2015.
Jim Belshaw at Shoe Bank Canada says being partnered with the new event will be a major boon for his growing charity.
“We believe no Canadian should want for a pair of shoes,” said Belshaw. “Of the tens of thousands of shoes we have so far given away, there is a small misconception that most of these shoes are going to the homeless which is not correct. About 20 to 25 per cent go to the homeless. The majority go to people like us, people that struggle from month to month to make ends meet. I want to encourage people to get down here to have some ribs and fun and for goodness sake don’t forget to bring a pair of shoes.”
The inaugural Kelowna RibFest 2016 will take place Sept. 16 to 18 in the sport-fields at City Park and will include not only the rib contest but a VIP tent, Club 19 beer garden and a family section.
Up to 300 volunteers will be needed and you can find out more information and register to volunteer at ribfestkelowna.com.