Festival Expands with Help from New Location

By Melanie Larson

Thunder Bay’s annual Ribfest has brought its celebrations to the Waterfront’s downtown core for years. However, this year the festival will take place on the CLE grounds. And, although it’s a big change, the new location will allow space for new events, as well as some returning favourites.

“I’m sure there are some people who are concerned because it’s not in the downtown core anymore,” says Gladys Berringer, Executive Director of Our Kids Count, an organization that has been involved with Ribfest since its second year. Berringer maintains that the CLE grounds will not only make the event more accessible for organizers and attendees but will also provide more space for larger events. “This year it has exploded. We have a total of twelve events that are going on throughout the weekend in addition to the Ribfest itself with the food, art vendors, entertainment, and stage.” 

One of the returning favourites will be the Local Ribbers Contest, which consists of fourteen local restaurants that are voted for by the people of Thunder Bay throughout August. Voters will be entered in a draw to win $650 in gift cards, provided by the participating restaurants, and will get a chance to judge the top five local ribbers on Saturday. “We’ve had the Local Ribbers Contest in the past,” says Berringer, “but not to this scale.” Also returning this year will be the Motorcycle Games on Saturday. “The Motorcycle Games have been gone for a couple of years, and now they’re back, which was primarily [reliant on] space,” says Berringer. 

The new venue also boasts the Coliseum, which will play a significant role in housing the RV & Outdoors Show on Saturday and Sunday. This new event will be one of the largest happenings at Ribfest this year. Other activities will include the Riverfront Rumble, Excavator Skills Challenge, BBQ Build Challenge, Fuel Dual, Strength Athletics, and the Kub Kar Rally. “We have two special guests this year, instead of one,” explains Berringer. “We have Rick Dale from American Restoration, who’ll be there Saturday, and Robbie Wolfe from American Pickers on Sunday.”

With an abundance of space and the help of numerous sponsors, Ribfest 2019 is sure to be the biggest year yet. And, with so many events, there’s something for everyone to enjoy – along with the ribs, of course. As always, admission to the event is free, but there will be a booth at the event accepting food donations for Our Kids Count Food Cupboard. So, come out and enjoy this charitable, fun, and oh-so-delicious event from August 23-25. For more information, visit ribfesttbay.com.