Rack of ages

Inau­gu­ral Syd­ney Ribfest draws thou­sands


Rain showers didn’t stop a steady flow of Cape Bre­ton­ers from wait­ing in line for one last feed of bar­be­cue as the inau­gu­ral Syd­ney Ribfest wrapped up Sun­day.

The three-day event drew thou­sands of peo­ple to the docks of the Joan Har­riss Cruise Pav­il­ion, with crowd fig­ures for Fri­day and Satur­day alone rep­re­sent­ing more than dou­ble what or­ga­niz­ers had hoped would come out for the en­tire event.

“The num­bers com­ing through the gate have just been be­yond what we had ex­pected. We had ex­pected 10,000 and now we’re over 20,000,” said Sara Burke, vice-pres­i­dent of the host Syd­ney Sunrise Ro­tary Club and co-chair of Syd­ney Ribfest.

And with thou­sands more stream­ing in on the fi­nal day for food from five of North Amer­ica’s best rib teams, Burke said Sun­day the at­ten­dance to­tal for the three days could ex­ceed 25,000.

By late Sun­day af­ter­noon, Ribfest of­fi­cials re­ported via their Face­book page that all five rib teams had sold out of ribs, while some still had sausage, pulled pork and other items avail­able.

Hosted by the Syd­ney Sunrise, Syd­ney, North Syd­ney and New Water­ford Ro­tary Clubs, Ribfest was pro­moted as a fam­ily event with great food and en­ter­tain­ment for all ages. And the re­sponse to the con­cept was over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive, ac­cord­ing to Burke.

“Peo­ple have been so happy about what’s hap­pen­ing here,” she said. “They’re ex­cited there was some­thing new and that their whole fam­ily could come down and ev­ery com­ment we’re get­ting has been pos­i­tive.”

North Syd­ney res­i­dents Josh and Va­lerie Lynch and their three grand­daugh­ters, Paula, Emily and Han­nah, were among those at Ribfest on Sun­day. Josh said he was re­ally en­joy­ing his meal.

“They’re great so far,” he said, not­ing he made his way to the event for one sim­ple rea­son. “I love bar­be­cue ribs.”

Ap­prox­i­mately 200 vol­un­teers helped make Ribfest a re­al­ity, with or­ga­niz­ers fo­cused on mak­ing sure the site was kept clean and that ev­ery­thing was re­cy­cled prop­erly.

Burke said the rib teams were very pleased with their sales, as were lo­cal ven­dors like Jason Mrazek of Syd­ney-based the Taste Broth­ers, which gave out sam­ples and sold their sauce and jelly prod­ucts through­out the week­end.

“We’re darn near sold out,” he said Sun­day af­ter­noon. “This week­end has been amaz­ing. The re­sponse from our lo­cal res­i­dents and the ex­po­sure has just been fan­tas­tic. Ev­ery­body seems to love what we’re do­ing.”

Mrazek said they also re­ceived re­ally pos­i­tive feed­back from some of the pro­fes­sional rib­bers at the event.

“If things go right we might have a deal with one of them for about 200 gal­lons of one of our bar­be­cue sauces, our Sweet Carolina, which is mus­tard-based with our own twist on it,” he said.

Ad­mis­sion to Ribfest was free but do­na­tions were ac­cepted at the gate for the Hos­pice Pal­lia­tive Care So­ci­ety of Cape Bre­ton County. A fi­nal tally of money raised wasn’t avail­able Sun­day but Burke said that peo­ple had been very gen­er­ous at the gate.

And the in­tent now is to make Syd­ney Ribfest an an­nual event.

“We’re about 100 per cent sure it’s com­ing back,” said Burke.”The rib­bers are ready to come, they asked if they can sign their con­tracts right now for next year. They loved Syd­ney and they said this is prob­a­bly one of the best run and or­ga­nized Ribfests that they do and they do cir­cuits of 40 to 50 a year.”


Rib­ber Mitchell Rus­sell from the Camp 31 rib team showed the crowd what was in store for them as they waited in line Sun­day af­ter­noon at Syd­ney Ribfest.



North Syd­ney res­i­dents Josh and Va­lerie Lynch and their three grand­daugh­ters, from left, Han­nah, Emily and Paula, en­joyed chow­ing down on bar­be­cue ribs, pulled pork and chicken Sun­day af­ter­noon at Syd­ney Ribfest.



BRE­TON POST Jason Mrazek of Syd­ney- based the Taste Broth­ers talks with Ribfest- go­ers Sun­day af­ter­noon.


Lines at all five rib­ber sta­tions per­sisted through­out the day Sun­day as Cape Bre­ton­ers were ea­ger to get one last dish of bar­be­cue be­fore the Syd­ney Ribfest came to an end.

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