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Guelph, Ontario Ribfest 2004 Review

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Guelph, Ontario Ribfest 2004 Review

Annette Brown | Sep 1, 2004 08:07 AM

Guelph Ribfest (www.ribfestguelph.com)
Riverside Park, Guelph, Ontario
Visited: Saturday, August 28, 1:30 p.m.
Tasters: Annette, Jasmine

Weather: It was a perfect day for the RibFest: warm (not hot), cloudy and low humidity. Even though the weather forecast predicted a 70% chance of rain with the possibility of thunderstorms, no rain fell for
the the entire time we were at the event (1:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.). In fact, didn't see any rain until we returned to Kitchener (yes, that's a dig at the boys -- oops, we mean people -- scared off by a few grey clouds).

Here is what Jasmine and Annette think of as good ribs: The scale is from 1 to 10 (low to high) when talking about salt and sweet.

Portion Size (1/3 rack): five meaty pieces, centre-cut
Saucing: We like our ribs on the saucier side, but the meat should be marinated and/or seasoned prior to cooking
Salt Rating: normal for us is (4)
Sweet Rating: normal for us is (6)

Plan of attack: Scanned the grounds before deciding upon sampling ribs from all eight rib vendors. Each of them also sold BBQ chicken and pulled pork sandwiches, which we did not try. Other stalls included:
Blooming Onion, Chicken Divine and Wine Inc., Roasted Corn on the Cob (roasted corn, yams and iced tea), Lucy's Seafood Kitchen, Yogen Fruz, Fresh Squeezed Lemonade and coffee stands.

As we were there for the ribs, we decided to purchase 1/3 rack ($8 for 4-5 ribs on average) from each of them. Half-racks were available for $11 and full-racks sold for $19. If you wanted, you could supplement
the ribs with side orders (usually beans and coleslaw) for an additional $2, but a full rack meal deal including the beans and coleslaw cost $20. Some places offered a "vegetarian nightmare" consisting of ribs,
chicken and pulled pork. The prices were consistent; most (if not all) vendors sold their own bottled sauces in the $6-10 range.

Bibb's BBQ from Castlebury, Alabama
- Portion size: five meaty pieces, not end pieces
- Saucing: medium -- much of it was caramelized onto the meat
- Salt rating (8) -- very salty, overpowering any sugars in the sauce.
- Sweet rating (0) -- did not notice any sweetness
Notes:
- This stall had the shortest lines of all the vendors.

Billy Bones from Port Colborne, Ontario
- Portion size five weenie pieces, end-cuts
- Saucing: saucy
- Salt rating: (5) -- a bit salty
- Sweet rating: (4)

Uncle Sam's from Castlebury, Alabama
- Portion size: five very meaty ribs - tasty
- Saucing: saucy
- Salt rating: (4)
- Sweet rating: (5) -- the spice mix was pleasing -- we think they added a little extra allspice or cloves.
Notes:
- We decided to get the beans and coleslaw ($2)
- Coleslaw: too much mayo, no flavour;
- Beans: additional veggies and kidney beans to the canned mix imparted a texture and nice mix of flavour
- Offered a vegetarian nightmare meal ($15) consisting of ribs, chicken and pork

Purple Pig from Aurora, Ontario
- Portion size: five average-sized pieces
- Saucing: medium: bland and non-descript -- it was as if they didn't marinate or season the meat prior to cooking; absolutely no flavour
- Salt rating: (N/A) (see saucing comment)
- Sweet rating: (N/A) (see saucing comment)
Notes:
- We decided to get beans and coleslaw ($2).
- Coleslaw: Our guess is everyone is using the same coleslaw mix
- Beans: were right from a can (boring)
- Not a very long line up, considering (according to a friend of Jasmine's) they were very popular last year.

Sticky Fingers from Providence, Rhode Island
- Portion size: five average-sized pieces, meat was buttery - melted in your mouth
- Saucing: light -- a nice balance of flavours, but we both agreed they should have been saucier.
- Salt rating: (4)
- Sweet rating: (5)
Notes:
- They offered baby beef ribs ($15) -- We were very tempted to try them, but this mission was all about pork ribs.
- A VERY BIG minus - cigarette smoking in the food prep area.

Silver Bullet from Fort Erie, Ontario
- Portion Size: four big pieces, meaty
- Saucing: saucy -- Annette thought the front flavour was that of Chinese BBQ pork ribs but full flavour was different, however equally good; Jasmine picked up a bit of a Tex-Mex/Cajun mix of flavours. Whatever it was, we liked it
- Salt rating: (4)
- Sweet rating: (5)
Notes:
- This sauce should be on the meat from Sticky Fingers.

Gator BBQ from Castlebury, Alabama
- Portion Size: six pieces, end cut, very tough meat
- Saucing: medium -- not overly sweet or salty, unevenly spiced
- Salt rating: (5)
- Sweet rating: (5)
Notes:
- We decided to get the beans and new potato ($2).
- The beans were very tasty but overcooked. The veggies, kidney beans and jalapeño peppers added to the canned base gave it a slight kick.
- The new potatoes were excellent, very tasty.

Camp 31 from Castlebury, Alabama
- Portion size: four pieces -- the only samples where the meat fell off the bone
- Saucing: medium -- the sauce tasted off (it was as if the Ajax cleanser had not been fully rinsed from the pot before the sauce was added)
- Salt rating: (0)
- Sweetness rating: (0)
Notes:
- BIG DISAPPOINTMENT (awful)- Normally Camp 31 is Annette's favourite all time saucy ribs
- Where the other vendors had paper towels and forks available, Camp 31 was the only vendor who had "clean 'em-ups" out for patrons (each pack included two of the following: mints, wet-naps and flosser picks) .

Here are our favourites:
1. Silver Bullet
2. Billy Bones
3. Uncle Sam's
4. Gator BBQ
5. Purple Pig
6. Bibb's and Camp 31 (tied)
7. Sticky Fingers (we would have ranked them 4th; however, due to someone smoking in the food prep area, they're ranked last.)

We both tried the following:
Roasted Corn on the Cob ($3 each). Available options were having it dipped in butter and a variety of spices to sprinkle on the cob. The corn was AMAZING!

Freshly-squeezed Lemonade ($3 for the small cup-size of a large shake from DQ, and $5 for the large cup-size of a big gulp). Depending upon which stall visited, you were given the option as to the level of tartness desired. Very good -- Annette went back for a second glass just before leaving. WARNING -- you know it's fresh when you keep sucking up pips!

Yes, even though it was a carnivore's delight, we decided the event would be better if there was a vendor selling green or fresh fruit salads or at least veggie sticks. Our bodies were craving something green after eating all that meat. (Okay, we did not manage to eat all the meat...by the end of the taste-test; we petered out and took leftovers home).

Overall, the event was well organized: a stage with bands, lots of seating, port-a-potties and volunteers were clearly visible. There were beer tents and areas for kids, which included a climbing wall and a bouncy castle. We even got to meet some really nice people and one family was surprised by the fact that we had managed to try all the places. They were definitely curious about us writing up our reviews. They will probably be contacting Dennis Mullin in regards to the Yellow Pages Dinner Club (YPDC).

-Annette and Jasmine

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