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Moncton fires up the grill for the annual Rotary Ribfest


With the smell of BBQ filling the air, Monctonians were faced with a tough decision Friday – not on what to eat for lunch, but what vender to get their ribs from.

“We picked this one because it was last years first choice for the people choice award, so we might as well go with the one that shows the best ribs,” said Franciska Vautour.

Isaac Smith also had to make a choice during his lunch break before heading back to work.

“We tried all the sauces and they were all pretty good, unique, and while we just kind of got a few of them and we’d try all of them, but it’s just too much food,” he said.

The grills’ are on for the 10th annual Rotary Ribfest at Mocton’s Riverfront Park this Thursday through Sunday.

Rotary Ribfest Moncton chair Colin Reeves says entry into the event is totally free, but they do ask for donations at the gate, which ends up going back to the community.

“It is for local charities, but it’s also something for the community. We now see it more as a give-back to the community,” he said.

Since 2014, he says the annual event has raised over $410,000.

“We’re hoping to raise $70,000, that’s the easy question. In terms of people it depends very much on the weather. Normally we would look to see between 20,000 to 30,000 over the four days. That would be a good turn out,” he said.

Ribs get cooked on the grill at the Rotary Ribfest in Moncton. (CTV/Alana Pickrell)Ryan Mandryk, owner and operator of Camp 31 BBQ, says he started off giving out sauce samples when he was just seven or eight-years-old.

“This is a family business, I was born into it so I really had no choice, but I did develop a passion for it. You have to right, it’s 16 hour days depending on the week, five to six times a week. We’re up at 6 in the morning getting the ribs going, we cook all night, all day, you have to have a passion for it,” he said.

Adding, “It’s all I know and I absolutely love it.”

Over the course of the four days there’s also live entertainment, a handful of local vendors and a lot of volunteers that help make the weekend what it is.

“We can always use people,” said Reeves.

“We’ve got about 90 per cent of the volunteers we need and we need 440 volunteers over the weekend.”

The Rotary Club is a non-profit, volunteer run organization.

Reeves says that throughout the weekend people are asked to work in three hour shifts.

There’s also a panel of 11-12 judges that are called up to make some of the most important decisions of the weekend.

A 'ribber' coats ribs with barbecue sauce at Moncton's Rotary Ribfest. (CTV/Alana Pickrell) “We give them a guide and they taste the ribs and they judge best ribs and best sauce and then we do a presentation for the winner – highly commended and commended for the two categories and they are very competitive these Ribbers,” said Reeves.

Mandryk adds, “I’m not going go crazy and say that we’re the best by a long shot, we think we’re the best, we’re competitive, but [there’s] five of North America’s best rib teams, you can’t go wrong, but hopefully you choose Camp 31 BBQ.”

Overall, it’s just a good excuse to avoid the kitchen.

“Until the people of Moncton stop showing up, I’m going to keep cooking,” said Mandryk.

Ribfest is open Friday until 10 p.m., Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

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