Windsor Ribfest & Craft Beer Festival Back For Seconds at Festival Plaza

(Tex Robert Jr. of Louisiana Bar BQ holding a rack of ribs at the Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)

Windsor’s second and last Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival of the year brings a wonderful opportunity for local residents to sample food and beverages not from these parts. Organized by Northern Heat Rib Series and part of a province-wide travelling festival, aside from downtown Windsor’s CraftHeads Brewing Company, the event’s craft beer market is serving up beers crafted by brewers in Toronto, Barrie, Blyth and Gananoque.

Craft Beer Market at Windsor Ribfest

The Craft Beer Market at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Route 55 BBQ Team

Tye of Route 55 BBQ Team cooking ribs at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

On the food front, well the ribs’ side of the house, both Canadians and Americans are cooking up a storm of traditional well-sauced ribs. But inside that storm there is something unique, an intriguing new idea no less.

Texas Jack’s, of Arlington, Texas, not all that far from the state’s capital of Austin, is serving up ribs with no sauces. Here’s the innovation. Customers can select from a buffet of different sauce varieties. Matthew Schwindt tells Eyes on Windsor, company founder Mark Wilson took time out to attend a number of food fairs to select the best offerings he could find. And, what is even more interesting, the sauces can be mixed.

Matthew Schwindt of Texas Jack’s Famous Dry Rib BBQ Pit

Matthew Schwindt giving a thumbs up in front of Texas Jack’s Famous Dry Rib BBQ Pit at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Texas Jack’s Famous Dry Rib BBQ PIT

Texas Jack’s Famous Dry Rib BBQ PIT at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

If the secret to making darn good craft beer is to find interesting names, Barrie’s Flying Monkeys was spending Friday evening serving up its specialty Antigravity offering. The brewer sees the craft section of the festival as a good way to introduce its product to a wider audience. This is particularly important says Ryley Bell because her brewery’s products can be found in beer and LCBO stores and even at some grocers.

Flying Monkeys Craft Beer

Ryley Bell, of Barrie’s Flying Monkeys Craft Beer pouring a glass of the brewer’s popular Antigravity offering, with Ann Carolyne looking on at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

And the festival isn’t just about beer and ribs. There’s a lot more to do including buying a new item of clothing or wall decoration. Brantford’s Furnishings Plus has almost a department store of souvenir items. According to cashier Jas, the hottest item this summer has been anything with the Toronto Raptors logo, although that business has slowed a bit.

Windsor Ribfest vendor

Brantford’s Furnishings Plus offering a wide range of souvenirs, clothing items and novelties at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

There are also a number of sport and social activities, from axe throwing and bubble soccer to Jenga.

People playing Jenga at Windsor Ribfest

Tom and Justa taking a break from playing Jenga at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

blowup football game at Windsor Ribfest

A family playing a game at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

And there is food including some of the newest in treats, like deep-fried Oreos.

Deep Fried Oreo's and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Deep-fried chocolate treats including Oreo’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

But one of the highlights remains the music. Northern Heat has set up an impressive schedule of some exceptional bands. Friday night this included Toronto’s mercurial Pink Rubber Jackets and its famed frontman Christopher James. In the view of the festival’s sound man, the Jackets are one of the Queen City’s fast rising bands.

Pink Rubber Jackets band member Christopher James

Christopher James, frontman of the Pink Rubber Jackets performing at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

No surprise the group plays exceptional classic rock and roll. That is almost obvious from its guitars. James plays a gold Gibson Les Paul, lead guitarist Steve Colucci has a baby blue Fender Telecaster while bassist Nathan Colucci relies on a Rickenbacher, little known fact, the exact same one preferred by Paul McCartney. Even their newest release, Good Love, is reminiscent of the hard rock hits of the past.

The Craft Beer Market’s vendors include Flying Monkeys, Cottage Springs, Barnstormer, Craft Heads, Cowbell and Amsterdam Brewing, Liberty Village Cider and others.

Cottage Springs Distillery

The Cottage Springs Distillery with it’s unique slogan on display at their craft beer booth at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Food choices cover a range of pork and beef ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, burgers and sausages washed down with coleslaw, corn bread, funnel cakes, blooming onions, ice cream and more treats.

Chimba of Chilliwack’s Oak and Barrel

Cook Chimba of Chilliwack’s Oak and Barrel cooking at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Windsor Ribfest Vendors

People exploring the rib vendors at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Kentucky Smokehouse at Windsor Ribfest

Cook Rob, who lives just outside Louisville, Kentucky, is busy cooking chicken and ribs from the Kentucky Smokehouse at Windsor Ribfest and Craft Beer Festival organized by Northern Heat Rib Series at Riverfront Festival Plaza in Windsor, Ontario, on Friday, August 30, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

For the cooks in the city, or those who want to learn a few secrets, cooking lessons are planned for today (Saturday, August 31) and Sunday from 12-2PM. The festival will run Saturday from 11am to 11pm and Sunday from 11am to 7pm at Windsor’s Riverfront Festival Plaza. Admission is free.

For more information visit the Eyes On Windsor Windsor Ribfest & Craft Beer Festival event page.

Robert Tuomi

Article by Robert Tuomi

For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.