Ribfest 2023 is on.
Five “ribber” teams fired up the barbeques at noon on Friday (Aug 25) in Cumberland. They danced to upbeat music, poured sauce from long distance and made an effort of “trying to outsell each other,” according to one of the owners.
“We’re all separate businesses,” said Rob Reinhardt, owner of Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ. “We’re all competitors.”
Cooks on scene growled out orders in a showy fashion, and slapped down racks of ribs onto smoking grills. They tried to attract the largest lineup at Cumberland Village Park.
But it’s all in good fun.
The competitors are a “summer family” according to Reinhardt. Each team travels for the season, attending several ribfests in the province. As a result, they “got to get along.”
Reinhardt’s team is stopping at 14 ribfests this year. He started the tour in Regina, just like every other summer for the last decade of his life.
It’s all for the love of barbeque.
“Ribfest gave me an opportunity to do it at scale,” he said. “Quit my job and make a full time [gig] out of it. We look forward to the trip every year.”
The event in Comox Valley is part of a local project. Part of fundraising this year will go towards paving Cumberland’s bicycle pump track, located beside the Cumberland Skate Park.
Entry is by donation, and the event is heavily supported by charity.
There’s roughly 70 volunteers helping make Ribfest happen this year. The event and volunteers were organized by Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club.
Pieter Vorster, a director at Strathcona who is also volunteering, said people should keep a few things in mind.
Due to “extreme fire danger” in Cumberland, absolutely no smoking of any kind is allowed. Also, people are encouraged to arrive by foot or bicycle, as parking is limited.
Bicycle lock-ups are provided at the park.
Ribfest 2023 runs all weekend, ending on Sunday at 7 p.m.