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Ribfest returns to Orillia

A vendor prepares ribs at Orillia's Ribfest on Fri. June 9, 2023 (Chris Garry/CTV News Barrie) A vendor prepares ribs at Orillia's Ribfest on Fri. June 9, 2023 (Chris Garry/CTV News Barrie)
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A favourite seasonal food has returned to the Sunshine City.

Orillia's annual Ribfest kicked off on Friday at Tudhope Park. This year 17 trailers featuring four different vendors are available for residents to choose from.

"It's just a real simple day out," said Mark Wilson of Northern Heat Rib Series, the organizer of Ribfest. "This is what I really love about it, and we come to a lot of cities, and I love it when these families come out, and you see kids running around, playing games, getting their face painted, having funnel cakes and eating ribs. It's just a great, simple family thing to do."

Northern Heat Rib Series holds 18 Ribfests throughout southern Ontario. Orillia is their fourth stop of the year, setting up in Orillia on June 9 after last visiting Windsor.

All vendors start with the same ribs but compete for both people's choice awards and judge's choice awards each weekend based on how they prepare their ribs. While they all start the same, how each vendor smokes them, rubs them and finishes them makes all the difference.

"They all put so much love and attention into submitting their judge's ribs, and when we announce them on Sundays, they are nervous," said Wilson. "We've seen people as they hand over their judging ribs; they bless their box to make sure they get that little bit of extra help. It's a serious business to them."

They hope to match last year's turnout, which saw 18,000 people show up.

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