It was a community picnic like no other.
And it was all about barbecue for three hog-heaven-filled days along the riverfront in New Glasgow as the inaugural Pictou County Ribfest was held last weekend.
Two pit bosses brought their travelling barbecue setups to compete head to head for the best ribs in Pictou County’s first Ribfest. Silver Bullet’s Texas-style ribs competed with Camp 31’s Alabama-style ribs.
The result was three days filled with music, laughter, crowds and fantastic eating.
The event was almost a year in the making, the brainchild of Lori-Anna Jenkins and Tammy MacLaren who have been working tirelessly since last October with a committee of eight others to make Pictou County Ribfest a reality. The event was a fundraiser for two local charities — Habitat for Humanity Pictou County and Viola’s Place homeless shelter in New Glasgow.
“We had more than 10,000 people through the gates and we’re thrilled with that,” said Jenkins.
There was no charge to attend the event and visit the site which featured lots of local live entertainment, a vendor village, the two professional ribbers and activities for the children to enjoy. Donation boxes were set up in several spots and visitors could be seen stuffing the bright red boxes with $20 bills.
Saturday’s inclement weather had a bit of an impact on the event, but Jenkins said she was happy to see “people were still dedicated to attending and enjoying the delicious food.”
MacLaren was equally enthusiastic about the community support.
“My feeling is that something very special took place at Pictou County Ribfest,” she said. “Our website on Saturday was overwhelmed and went down due to the overwhelming traffic. And the social media had all positive comments, which is unheard of.”
The support and attendance was more than the two could anticipate.
“I am shocked,” Jenkins said. “So many people attended all three days – and lots of people visited more than once a day. We saw people who were there with one group and then returned later that day with a different crew. We loved that.”
The ribbers were equally surprised at the support.
Silver Bullet pitmaster “Tickle” said, “I knew right away Friday it was going to take off. We do shows all over Canada and we find the smaller communities give us a bigger, better turnout. Friday lunch would typically be a bit slower but we had an amazing turnout.”
To produce their product, they rub a special blend of Texas style spices on the meat, put them in the smoker for four and a half to five hours with apple, hickory and plum wood. The meat is then put in a heat holding unit which gives them a little steam to soften them up a bit, then tossed on the grill slathered in Silver Bullet’s special barbecue sauce.
Jamie Williams, pit boss for Camp 31 BBQ, said his process includes “our signature award-winning dry rub, three and a half hours in the smoker, on to the barbecue where the heat opens it up for the sauce.” The third generation ribber was happy with the turn out.
At the end of the event on Sunday, the public voted for their favourites: Camp 31 won for best ribs and Silver Bullet won for best sauce.
Once expenses are covered, proceeds are split between the two charities.
“We owe a huge thank you to the community for its support,” Jenkins lauded.
She said the committee is already looking toward planning another Ribfest next year.
Succulent ribs finish cooking on the grill while the crowd lines up to have a taste. (Cameron photo)