RibFest kicks off in Kelowna

Inaugural event features four "ribbers," entertainment, a beer garden, kids' zone and food trucks offering other fare, all in City Park.

Three-year-old Trey checks out a rib at Kelowna's inaugural RibFest in City Park Friday.

Kelowna’s inaugural RibFest kicked off Friday and runs through the weekend—open until 9 p.m. tonight, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday in City Park.

With four barbecue outfits cooking up ribs, chicken and pulled pork—as well as food trucks offering other fare, a beer garden, live music and a kids’ play area, the event is a fundraiser for Rotary charities and a collection point for Shoe Bank Canada.

Art Gillan of Sunrise Rotary in Kelowna said the event is modelled on the very successful RibFests in Kamlops and Penticton, which have been going for the last five and two years respectively.

The “ribbers,” who compete in a circuit across Western Canada, including at the recent PNE in Vancouver, include Boss Hogg’s, Blazin’ BBQ, Gator BBQ and Smoke & Bones. Visitors to RibFest can vote for the People’s Choice Award winner by texting their votes to 778-4000-1772 and entering the words “Blazin”, “Boss”, “Gator” or “Smoke” depending on their choice.

A celebrity panel of rib eaters will also judge the quartet’s offerings on Saturday.

The first chance for the public to taste the ribs, lunchtime on Friday, proved popular with brief line-ups at the the rib joints.

Jay Dowdell,there with his partner Britany Rollins,their three-year-old son Trey and Dowdell’s  mom, Christine, said he had been counting down the days too RibFest ever since he heard it was coming to town.

“I couldn’t wait,” he said.

Rollins, who didn’t think she would be able to make it Friday, said she was glad she could as she stood in line for ribs.

RibFests are big events in Eastern Canada and are starting to make a splash in cities across the West.

Matthew Pollard of Smoke & Bones said his barbecue stand usually goes through about 50 to 60 boxes of ribs (each with 15 racks in them) during a typical three-day RibFest event in Western Canada.

He, like the organizers and his competitors at the other barbecue stands, said he expected the crowds would grow here over the weekend, especially if the weather holds.