Messy faces and sticky fingers were everywhere as Prince Albert chowed down at the second annual Rotary Ribfest.
Guests hungrily tore into racks of ribs and chicken prepared by some of the finest ribbers from Regina, Calgary and southern Ontario who were at Kinsmen Park serving up flavourful feasts and competing to take home top honours.
What makes these ribs so good one may ask? It only takes speaking to the ribbers for a couple minutes to see passion plays a part.
“I have been doing this since I was 14 and this is all I know,” Matt Jenkins said. “I essentially grew up in the back of a rib trailer.”
Jenkins is the owner and operator of Blazzin BBQ based in Chatham, Ont. This was his second time at the event. Blazzin BBQ took home the People Choice Award for ribs and sauce this year. In 2016, the truck secured the Judges Choice for sauce and placed second in the rib category. For Jenkins, the peoples choice awards were crowning achievements as it was the voice of those enjoying the meal over the opinions of just a handful of judges.
“For me, when I see someone bite into a rib or a piece of chicken of mine and I see the smile on their face, that is what drives me and keep me doing this,” he said.
The rib circuit is no easy feat. At a high point, Jenkins was hitting upwards of 30 festivals across the country every summer. He believed his life long passion for the craft and use of selected fruit woods, recipes and spices all combine to set his ribs apart. Jenkins learned the tricks of the trade from his father who sold meat to ribbers from America that would come to Canada to tour and compete.
He said the Prince Albert event, though in its infancy, had great potential and was keen to return next year.
This sentiment was echoed by Ribfest Committee Chair Duane Hayunga. He said the change in location from the Exhibition Grounds to the park made the event more family friendly.
“A family can come down here and have dinner and get some entertainment and enjoy a very competitive group of men and women who some make great food.”
Despite the cooler weather hindering turnout for the event Thursday and Friday, Hayunga was optimistic the club would meet their financial goals and once again contribute a sizable donation to Project Triple Play.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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