Whether you’re a vegetable lover or a meat lover, there’s a festival for you in Sarnia this weekend.
The Kinsmen Club’s Ribfest makes its triumphant return on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to the recently reopened Centennial Park. The new Vegfest is on Sunday at Canatara Park.
Ribfest has been a summer staple in Sarnia for 17 years but was forced to move from Centennial in 2013 while the soil was remediated. The Kinsmen moved the event out to Hiawatha Horse Park for a couple of years but attendance dropped and it was cancelled last year.
“It’s fantastic to be back in Centennial,” says organizer Jack Struck. “Hiawatha Horse Park was good to us but not as good as Centennial. People just couldn’t get to Hiawatha as easily.
“I think this could be one of the most successful Ribfests we’ve had,” he said. “We’re certainly working hard to make it happen.”
Five ribbers will set up in the main field along with about 15 vendors. Struck said more ribbers and vendors wanted to be there but the club decided to limit the number to ensure everyone makes good money. Vendors will be selling everything from ice cream and deep-fried chocolate bars to T-shirts and blankets.
Eleven local bands over three days are scheduled to play on a big rented stage in the field. It isn’t possible to use the new Suncor Agora stage built by the city, said Struck.
“We wanted a licensed area near the stage and that wasn’t possible with the Suncor Agora,” he explained. “But, on the whole, I like how the park turned out. I’m sorry they cut so many trees down, but we’ll have a big family tent up for 360 people.”
On Friday, entertainment begins at 7 p.m. with Rob Sharp & Lit’l Chicago, followed by Scott Manery & The Barnburners, then Jabrito. Saturday’s musical lineup begins at 5:30 p.m. with Gypsy Flatts, then Roundhouse, Retrospect and Chain Reaction.
Stephanie Aikin & Company kick things off Sunday at 1 p.m., followed by Jeff Black & Daryl, then Mark Blayney at 4 p.m.
Centennial Park opens each day at noon.
New this year is a $5 adult admission fee after 6 p.m. Prior to that, the Kinsmen accept donations. The admission fee is necessary because of increasing costs to host Ribfest, said Struck. This year’s budget is $80,000. The club hopes to break even, but if any money is made it goes to a wide range of local charities including the annual Christmas and Canada Day parades, St. Joseph’s Hospice and Pathways.
On Sunday, Sarnia’s first Vegfest takes place from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. in Canatara Park. There will be at least nine food vendors and 10 shops inspired by the vegan food movement.
A full roster of live entertainment, cooking demos, kids’ activities and educational presentations is planned.
Speakers include Sarnia’s Laura Cicchini of Zen Wellness talking about plant-based diets; bodybuilder Kristen Gilbert and Jen Novakovich of the Eco Well on DIY vegan beauty products.
For a full list of what’s on, check out www.sarniavegfest.com. Admission is free.
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