Sandi Best and Dino Fiorin with the Esquimalt Celebration of Lights committee pose with a 1939 Ford to help promote Cars

Sandi Best and Dino Fiorin with the Esquimalt Celebration of Lights committee pose with a 1939 Ford to help promote Cars

Ribs, riffs and rides coming to Esquimalt

Esquimalt getting set for big weekend at Bullen Park

Make no mistake: Ribbing is serious business.

While rib festivals have become mainstay summer attractions in Kamloops, cities in southern Ontario and countless U.S. states, Vancouver Islanders haven’t had a chance to experience the smokey barbecue celebration closer to home – until now.

The inaugural Esquimalt Ribfest kicks off at Bullen Field this weekend (Sept. 13 to 15), where ribbers from as far away as Albuquerque, New Mexico will compete for top accolades from an anticipated crowd of 10,000 people.

“This will put Esquimalt on the map,” said Murray Boyce, organizer of the free car show taking place in conjunction with Ribfest. “Next year it will just be so big.”

Cars, Rods & Rides, benefitting the Esquimalt Celebration of Lights, runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. behind Archie Browning Sports Centre on the Saturday (Sept. 14).

Attendees are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy for CFAX Santas Anonymous.

Across the way, Bullen Field will be buzzing with live music, a craft beer garden, kids’ zone and even a youth rugby combine, put on by Rugby Canada athletes, during Ribfest.

“We’re hoping to offer sponsorship to national athletes out of this and help support the Esquimalt High rugby academy (opening) next year,” says Teresa Mitrou,  who along with local firefighter Tom Woods is organizing Ribfest.

Independent of Ribfest and other charity fundraising efforts, the weekend in Esquimalt also includes a concert by classic rock bands Bad Company and Chilliwack, who will light up Bullen Field on Sunday night (Tickets start at $79.50).

“It’s a great capstone to the weekend,” Mitrou says.

Boyce and Mitrou warn that parking will be tight all weekend. They encourage attendees to walk, cycle or take the bus.

Ribfest runs Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For a full schedule of events and ribbers, visit esquimaltribfest.com. For more information or to participate in the car show, visit celebrationoflights.ca.

dpalmer@vicnews.com