Derek Raphael Ventura keeps an eye on the grill for Gator BBQ during Esquimalt Ribfest. The three-day extravaganza of ribs, live music, community fun and craft beer returns to Bullen Park, Sept. 7 to 9. Photo contributed

Derek Raphael Ventura keeps an eye on the grill for Gator BBQ during Esquimalt Ribfest. The three-day extravaganza of ribs, live music, community fun and craft beer returns to Bullen Park, Sept. 7 to 9. Photo contributed

Hungry? Esquimalt Ribfest is back and better than ever

Sixth year brings more food, fun, live music and a tribute to Jason Buie to Bullen Park

For three days at the start of each fall, Bullen Park transforms itself into the biggest barbecue and live music venue you’ll find across the region with the Esquimalt Ribfest.

“You can follow your nose to it,” says founder and organizer Tom Woods. “It’s the best-attended event in Esquimalt.”

The family-friendly annual tradition is a Township staple, founded on the dream to give back to the community. All proceeds benefit the Esquimalt Firefighters Charitable Fund and the ongoing efforts to build Esquimalt High School an all-weather playing field.

Six years on, over $500,000 has been raised.

RELATED: Esquimalt field of dreams needs funding boost

Entirely volunteer-driven, the free event (feel free to donate at the entrance gate) is an homage to the country’s best ribbers and local musicians with a splash of some of the region’s best craft beer, cider and wine.

This year the team behind Ribfest faced another loss with the untimely passing of Esquimalt blues guitarist Jason Buie, the festival’s music director. Woods’ co-founder Cindy Briggs was honoured last year after she also passed away unexpectedly in 2016.

RELATED: Esquimalt Ribfest racks up volunteers, making it a family affair

“Jason did this for us,” Woods says. “The reason we have such incredible music is solely because of him.”

Six years ago Woods pitched Buie with the idea of having a “big family house party” where the community could eat and drink and not have to pay to get through the door.

As it turns out, the party was so good, rib-goers now donate at the gate entrance and thousands of dollars have gone back to the community as a result.

Jason Buie is the reason Esquimalt Ribfest has the musical lineup it does, says founder Tom Woods. Buie served as the festival’s music director until his untimely death in March. Photo contributed

Two close friends of Buie stepped in this year to help ensure the show would go on. In honour of the award-winning musician, an eight-foot neon guitar will be erected at what is now called the Jason Buie Stage, where a tribute is planned.

“It’s gonna be a great dance party is what it’s going to be,” Woods says.

RELATED: Victoria blues man named Canada’s best new artist

Rib teams from as far away as Ontario and Saskatchewan will compete for the coveted People’s Choice Award and be judged by Mayor Barb Desjardins and other local personalities, for the best ribs and best sauce.

And, herbivores fear not – veggie options will also be available.

“I know a lot of people are leaning that way to vegetarian or vegan food, so we don’t want to just be carnivores,” Woods says. “If we can incorporate different options so everyone can feel welcome there, that’s a big thing for us.”

An estimated 50,000 people will eat, drink and dance in Bullen Park over the course of the weekend.

And, Woods has some advice about how to best navigate the festival: “Bring a group of six, grab a rack at each ribber and do your own little taste test.”

Expect to find Dryspell, Hypeman and the Worms, Jolly Mon Band, Blue Sky, Eagle Eyes, Cities, Paul Black, Soul Shakers, Rock Steady, Bill Johnson and more onstage throughout the weekend.

Esquimalt Ribfest runs Sept. 7 to 9 at Bullen Park; for a complete schedule visit EsquimaltRibfest.com or check them out on Facebook.

@kristyn_anthony

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Former Saanich councillor Dean Murdock hosts a live episode of his podcast on April 14 and tackleto tackle housing issues in the region. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Live episode of Saanich podcast focuses on region’s housing issues

Dean Murdock, panel of guests go live on Zoom for Amazing Places podcast April 14

Additional COVID-19 exposures have been reported at Arbutus Global Middle School and Mount Doug Secondary School. (Google Streetview)
Additional COVID-19 exposures reported at two Saanich schools

New dates of exposure added to Arbutus Global Middle School and Mount Doug Secondary School

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a recipient at a vaccination clinic. Peoples Pharmacy in Colwood is offering AstraZeneca vaccines for Greater Victoria residents from April 12 to 18. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
AstraZeneca vaccinations continue at Colwood pharmacy

Vaccines offered to people aged 55 to 65 from April 12 to 18

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. and Victoria’s overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Jacques Sirois of the Community Association of Oak Bay works to remove decades worth of English ivy from a stand of native Scouler’s Willows in the Kitty Islet end of McNeill Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Jacques Sirois of the Community Association of Oak Bay works to remove decades worth of English ivy from a stand of native Scouler’s Willows in the Kitty islet end of McNeill Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Oak Bay declares a decade of ecological restoration

The UN initiative aligns with what district is already doing, mayor says

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

The Campbell River Gun Club outdoor range is located on Argonaut Road west of Campbell River. CRGC/Facebook photo
Campbell River Gun Club range shut down after complaints of stray bullets

Neighbour says bullets hit caretaker’s RV and shattered a glass panel on his deck

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Green Point Campground saw an unprecedented flurry of reservations last week. (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve campground sees ‘unprecedented’ interest

Reservations being accepted as Green Point Campground scheduled to open May 1

Restaurant owners Oura and Kymon Giakoumakis visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PODCAST: COVID-19 pandemic hits Island’s food service industry hard

Pair of Vancouver Island restaurant owners share thoughts and advice

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

A Nanaimo man will serve nine months in jail for the sexual assault of a young girl he admitted to having committed more than 40 years ago. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo man sentenced for sexually abusing girl more than 40 years ago

Man, now 71, gets nine-month sentence for abuse of friend’s daughter

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. urges people to stay in their neighbourhoods, discourages out-of-household meet-ups

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there should be no travel, even to the next city over

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox is shown in a 1981. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/CP)
Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

Fred Fox said his brother’s legacy of resilience has taken on renewed resonance as COVID-19 rages on

Most Read