One of the best traditions of fall is the Esquimalt Ribfest. And when you hear the word ribfest, you likely conjure up images of juicy, smokey, meaty deliciousness. But do you also see a brand-new community turf field and field house? The volunteers behind Esquimalt’s Ribfest certainly do and every year they are getting closer and closer to their own “field of dreams”.
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But first the ribs and festival behind the fundraising.
If you are from Eastern Canada or US, you may be familiar with a rib festival. My hometown of London Ontario boasts that they are Canada’s first and biggest and the festival runs for 5 days over the August long weekend. They’ve been at it since 1985. Here in Esquimalt, they have been holding their event over 3 days in early September, since 2014. Things were stalled a bit during 2020 due to COVID but a scaled-back version was held September 10-12, 2021. Hopefully the full-version ribfest will be held in 2022.
Ribbers – professional chefs who specialize in preparing grilled meats – compete as a team against other teams of ribbers for coveted prizes such as Best Ribs, Best Sauce and People’s Choice. They generally use wood smokers with chips of cherry, hickory, apple or plum wood. Experienced ribbers may mix woods for their own unique blend. In addition, every team also has their own take on a top secret meat rub, sauce blend and smoking time. If you want to elevate your own grilling game, we highly recommend these spices and rubs from Triple Smoke made here on Vancouver Island in Shawnigan Lake.
Menus will feature pork and beef ribs and some vendors may also have a chicken option. But as the name implies, it’s mostly about the ribs. Saucy, smokey, divine goodness!
Of course, you’ll want some cold beverages to enjoy with those ribs and for guests 19+, there is a good variety of craft beers and ciders to choose from.
Although it is free to attend, this is a fund-raising event and donations are encouraged. After covering the costs of the event, all money raised goes to the Esquimalt Firefighters Charitable Foundation and the Esquimalt Ribfest Society. The money stays in the community and helps fund some local charities and some activities for the youth of the community.
Enter the field of dreams.
One of the recipients of the proceeds is the group trying to bring an all-weather playing field (now known as Es-Whoy-Malth Community Field Collaboration) to E-town complete with lights for year-round use, a grandstand and field house with change rooms and washrooms.
It is a lofty goal, but the momentum is building and so is the bank account. The project has collectively raised more than $330,000 and is now applying to various levels of government for additional funding.
There are no pets, no smoking and no credit at the Esquimalt Ribfest – bring cash or access the ATM machines on site.
The festival relies on volunteers. If you'd like to help out, be sure to contact them.
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