'Morale boosting' Rib Fest in St. Albert pivots to drive-thru format
EDMONTON -- After a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic, Rib Fest in St. Albert returned.
While the format was changed to be pandemic friendly, the second annual Rib Fest, hosted at St. Albert Centre, ran from Friday to Sunday and raised funds for causes supported by the Rotary Club of St. Albert.
Last year, Rib Fest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of being part of the St. Albert City Block Party at Lions Park, Rib Fest was a standalone drive-thru event.
Mark Dixon, president of the Rotary Club of St. Albert, said several rib and barbecue vendors retrofitted their food trucks or meal prep stations to be drive-thru friendly.
Dixon said more than 1,800 people have come out.
People could choose from three different barbecue vendors, including one from the southern U.S. and two from eastern Canada.
“We have had folks who are so passionate about Rib Fest and not necessarily picking one team, they’ve gone through three times,” Dixon said.
For Dixon, an event like this helps show how the community can come together safely in a fun and delicious way to support local causes.
“It is so, so important,” Dixon said. “After managing our way through the third wave of a pandemic, to have something like this – even a drive-thru activity – for the community is powerful.
“The feedback we are getting is that (people) are so pleased it is back,” he added. “It is fundraising for the community but it is morale boosting.”
Mitchell Russell, from Pistol Pete’s, told CTV News Edmonton that the pandemic forced the barbeque tour company to change their entire style of operations.
While the way people get their BBQ is different, Russell assured that nothing to do with the recipes has changed.
“Really the stuff back in the kitchen doesn’t change much,” he shared. “We still have the same recipes and tricks of the trade. It’s just the drive-thru format changing.
Rib Fest is open till 8 p.m. Sunday evening.