EDITOR - TODD LIHOU: More than enough ribs to go around

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Can you smell the ribs? I can, and it's only Tuesday (I write these diatribes on Tuesday).

This weekend marks the zenith of the culinary calendar for yours truly, as the moon and stars line up to create Ribfest – the best smelling, tastiest and most colourful of the summer festivals we're blessed to have here in Fun City.

I often refer to Ribfest as Mecca, only because I have to do four circuits around the infield in Lamoureux Park before finally choosing a rib outfit to sample.

And in my house you have to make your selection wisely, otherwise it's a fight of brontosaurus proportions. Last year I made the mistake of choosing the 'wrong' ribber. My wife has particular tastes, and had one style of ribs – only one – on her mind this day.

Of course the line for that ribber (it's Ribs Royale, by the way) stretched all the way to Lancaster, and in the summer heat I picked a shorter line.

Big mistake.

Not unlike a police dog sniffing out a suspected criminal, my wife knew something was amiss when I returned home with two racks of ooey, gooey goodness.

As an aside, I'm pretty sure rib sauce is one part heroin and two parts crack cocaine, because it's addictive properties have resulted in strict orders, where I choose only from a pre-approved list of ribbers.

I mention all this to make a simple point – people have become passionate about this festival…big time.

Colleen Carter, the spokesperson for Ribfest, told me last week she has a mountainous list of vendors and ribbers who wanted to take part in the festival this year. All of them were told, as politely as possible, that they couldn't be squeezed in this year.

Ribfest, it would seem, is growing beyond its wildest dreams, because word is spreading about the little festival that could.

Years ago Lamoureux Park would sit empty for much of the summer, save Canada Day and the odd outdoor concert.

Not so, today.

Ribfest, Lift-Off and a host of other festivals and attractions have resulted in Cornwallites and others 'choosing' a function to attend based more on our tastes (pardon the pun), instead of simply venturing to the park because a particular event is the only one to take place.

Ribfest is still in the process of inventing itself. Of course there will be ribs (have we mentioned the ribs yet?) but there so much more. Vendors are offering everything from ground soap to lawn tractors, and there's also different tastes to complement changing appetites.

Middle Eastern fare, Caribbean food and good old Canadiana will be featured.

Of course, admission is free. Lift-Off has taken it on the chin in recent years, with many complaining about the cost of attending, and pointing to Ribfest as a 'free' event.

Of course one can walk around the park and not pay a cent. But it's not 'free' to eat there. And I would wager many people are spending just as much, if not more, on ribs and side dishes that others fork over for Lift-Off tickets - the same people who complain about Lift-Off being too expensive.

This isn’t mentioned to call anyone out, or pit one festival against the other.

It simply illustrates that there are enough festivals to go around – and that different tastes can be exploited to draw people to the park, and showcase our community.

So by the time many of you read this, the smoky smell of burning wood, charcoal and caramelized sauce will likely begin wafting its way up Pitt Street and beyond.

If the early returns are any indication, it's sure to be another successful event – just take my advice, and do what you're told when it comes to picking a ribber.

Geographic location: Lamoureux Park, Lancaster, Caribbean Pitt Street

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