Smoke, sizzle and sauce: Ribfest is back in Kelowna

Despite smoky skies, rib fans turn out to City Park to for their saucy meat-eaters’ delight

The third annual Kelowna Ribfest is underway in City Park downtown.

The gates opened at noon Friday and despite the smoky skies, people started to line up to buy ribs from at the five “ribbers”—up from four last year— on hand for this year’s event.

On a busy day, one rib vendor can sell as many as 1,300 racks of ribs.

Former organizing committee chairman Brian Wrightson said this year festival is bigger and better than ever and he expects to see the crowds turnout over the weekend despite the smoke, especially on Sunday, when families are encouraged to come down to the park to get their the fill of the saucy meat-eaters delight.

He said he was not concerned about threats to protest the event by animal rights activists, saying they have a right to peaceful protest.

But for those who took in the event early on Friday at lunch time, the saucy, sticky ribs were a welcome return. And for those attending Ribfest for the first time, the event was a pleasant discovery.

“These are amazing,” said Hikin Tiong, a UBC Okanagan engineering grad as he dug into his plate of ribs. He attended with fellow Kelowna resident Tiffany Huang and two visitors from Vancouver, Sharon Lau and Nancy Chou. All four were there for the first time and said they were impressed with ribs they were eating.

A self-described “huge fan of ribs,” Tiong said the secret to good ribs is a great sauce and just the right amount of cooking.

“And these are all really good,” he said.

Sauce is also the key ingredient in the minds of two other visitors to Kelowna who took in the event for lunch Friday.

Related: Get ready to get messy, RibFest returns to Kelowna

Sarah and Jamie Maloway from Surrey said they were in town to visit family, walked by the park, saw the tents and decided to investigate.

“It’s great,” said Sarah of Ribfest. “Mine are really good.”

In addition to ribs, there are other foods available on site, as well as stage entertainment and a beer garden.

Rifest is put on by Kelowna’s Sunrise Rotary Club and sponsored by Interior Savings Credit Union. This year the event is raising money for Joe-Anna’s House, a building to provide home-away-from-home accommodation for families with loved ones undergoing treatment at Kelowna General Hospital.

Wrightson said organizers hope to raise more than $50,000 from the three-day event this year or the KGH Foundation’s building project.

Ribfest runs today and tomorrow from noon to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The ribbers vie for the title of people’s choice, an accolade won by Boss Hogg’s Ribs last year. This year, voters can text their selection in by sending the name of their favourite ribber to a number written on the box their ribs come in.

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