(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.
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.
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.
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.
There are also a number of sport and social activities, from axe throwing and bubble soccer to Jenga.
And there is food including some of the newest in treats, like deep-fried Oreos.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.