Ottawa’s Ribfest: “I would die happy if I could die in a vat of this BBQ sauce.”

The International Chicken-Rib Cook-Off takes place from June 22 to 26, 2011

Hilary Duff (blog/Twitter) is a quirky 21-year-old who loves multimedia journalism, cycling, food blogging, and churning massive amounts of baked goods out of her cramped student kitchen. She has officially wrapped her LTOttawa series on the hunt for Ottawa’s perfect cupcake, but is continuing on as one of LTO’s top Local Tourists. 

Attractive fact #3458 about me: As I write this, I smell like a mixture of campfire and smoked meat.

No, this is not some sort of strange eau de cabin scent that I’m trying out, but rather the result of my Thursday lunchtime Ribfest feast.

Let me start at the beginning. 

Wednesday I got tweeted asking why I was not eating lunch at Ribfest.  That was an extremely good question.  The answer?  I simply didn’t know that this cross-continent, meat-loving fest was making its Ottawa stop

The crowd in front of Boss Hog's

So, armed with the appetite of a thousand beasts, I made my way down to Sparks Street to experience the magic of Ribfest. 

Joining me was my friend and old roommate Ariel, and another student from my office, Elisa. 

It was a summer student lunch break like no other. 

Hitting Sparks Street, we were met with the smell of meat-scented smoke and the sight of eager government workers cradling their Styrofoam containers of ribs and pulled pork sandwiches (just for the record, I would have and could have jumped one of them for their food, but alas I didn’t think they would allow me to eat ribs in prison). 

Elisa and Ariel enjoying lunch

Despite the rain and the fact that it was Thursday, I knew we’d be facing a line.  Navigating our way through the crowd, we picked “Boss Hog’s” the vendor that seemed to have the shortest wait time.  For the next 15 minutes we were all but salivating in line and were bopping along cheerfully to the Johnny Cash music playing in the background. 

I am 100 per cent sure the lady behind us thought we were insane.


I also took the wait time to absorb a bit of the Ribfest atmosphere.  On the section of Sparks Street that I was on (right by Kent), there were three “teams” set up.  Each rib stand was decorated with bright coloured plastic banners, obnoxiously touting previous Ribfest wins.  In front of each truck was a huge BBQ, where bandana clad cooks slathered the ribs with sauce and slapped them on the grill. 

Ariel and I had to wonder: how exactly do you get into the rib-cooking business?

FINALLY, it was our turn to get ribs.  Piled around the cash were rolls of paper towel.  I took a good metre of paper which was, in foresight, an extremely good idea.  We each got a half rack and Ariel and I also got beans and coleslaw.  Wanting to eat our food as soon as humanly possible, we darted off the main street and took a seat on the cement retaining wall surrounding a planted tree.  It was finally time to dig in.

Ribfest lunch: ribs, beans, coleslaw

Now, it seems as though delicious food makes Ariel quite the quotable person.  Here were a few of my very favourite lines from our indulgent lunch break:

  • “It should be illegal for things to taste this good;”
  •  (In relation to our face-stuffing ways): “I haven’t breathed in like, 10 minutes”; and, “le pièce de résistance”
  • “I would die happy if I could die in a vat of this BBQ sauce.”

I didn’t say it, but I felt the exact same way.

We ended our lunch in the only way you can end a meal of ribs: with a trip to the nearby drugstore for a good hand washing and floss.

If this post made your mouth water and gave you the urge to listen to the Man in Black, you should down to Sparks Street ASAP.  Ribfest Ottawa is only on until this Sunday!