The New Tradition (Prince George RibFest)
Who would have thought it was possible? The first Prince George Ribfest has come and gone. Three days of music, beer, and most importantly, ribs.
Lots of ribs.
At times, we thought the venue would burst at the seams. More than 10,000 people crossed the threshold to enjoy the many offerings.
“Being a Rotarian, it’s important to do what we can to improve and make a difference in people’s lives,” says Rachelle Delorey, president of Nechako Rotary. “Ribfest came to life to bring our communities together, for families and friends to have fun, enjoy awesome music and food.”
It began with individuals, I included, returning from various rib fests across the province, notably Kamloops and Kelowna, realizing how important such an event is to local communities and how critical it was to bring Prince George Ribfest to town. A close-knit group formed to take on the crusade to replicate that success here.
“Ribfest can be summed in one word; fantastic!” says Event Manager Kyle Sampson. “The experience of working with dedicated, hard-working, and community-oriented Rotarians, along with a number of other volunteers was something I value tremendously. I have been a part of several events in leadership roles and various others, and this was unique, fun, and the end result was so rewarding. I am thankful to have been asked to come on board for 2019, and I hope to be welcomed back from the Nechako Rotary Club in some capacity for 2020.”
“I think even members of PG Nechako Rotary club were amazed at the turnout,” says Robert Quibell of Nechako Rotary. “PWB was amazing and really helped make this a successful event. We are already working on improving several areas—seating, more areas will be opened up to the public, maybe a 5th Ribber and more time open to families. The music was great, and the local artists really came through. We are thankful to the volunteers and everyone who came down to check PG Ribfest out, and we hope to see them next year.”
On Saturday, four individuals took to the stage to rate the ribs and pass judgment. It was an arduous task, and on Sunday, the judges’ selection was finally announced alongside the People’s Choice Award. Shockingly, one of the four rib trucks cleaned up, winning the top price in every category. Prairie Smoke & Spice won Best Ribs, Best Sauce, and People’s Choice. It was not a loss all around for the others, as every other ribber brought home a trophy. Having tried selections from every ribber, I can sympathize with the judges—there was no real loser. Misty Mountain, Boss Hogs, and Gator BBQ each brought their A-Game. At the time of this writing, I am still working off a pound of pulled pork from Misty Mountain. I also made a point to purchase every single bottle offered across the line, from Blue Ribbon and Gator Bite to Pow Pow Sauce.
However, Prairie Smoke and Spice was different in a subtle way most people may not have noticed. Before arriving in town, they posted on social media the need for temporary employees to work their truck for the weekend. One who answered the call was Chris Leboe.
“Working for Rob and his crew at Prairie Smoke and Spice was a blast,” Chris says. “They were welcoming, accepting, and I learned a lot more about BBQ while having a great time.” Having had past kitchen experience, Chris knew somewhat what to expect, but even then, it was grueling. “Having not worked in a professional kitchen in three years, it was labor intensive. It left me stiff and sore, but I wouldn’t change any of it. It is not every weekend you get to work and learn from such a highly decorated BBQ master.”
Another local talent poached by BBQ was Alan Crowe.
“The weekend was absolutely fantastic,” said Alan. “I've never had so much fun working with anyone before.” However, the weekend would prove to be more than a temporary gig for Alan. “I approached them about working on tour. Rob expressed a great interest in bringing me on, and I hopped on the opportunity as quickly as I could.” Alan dropped everything to be part of the Prairie Smoke and Spice team. Days later, they arrived at their next location. “We’re currently working in Penticton with the opportunity to go around the country, and that's probably the best part about this, after the fact that I get to eat world class ribs for lunch break.”
The common takeaway from everyone involved is pure satisfaction for an awesome weekend, a stellar inaugural event. It is often accepted that the first year of a potential tradition is the watershed, with daily struggles and emergencies to overcome. Only on the shoulders of its organizers can an event like this succeed with the potential of a follow-up, and based on the success of this first event, said follow-up is a virtual guarantee.