Traditional recipes

The Toronto Ribfest Is Also Its Largest Charity

The Toronto Ribfest Is Also Its Largest Charity

Toronto’s largest food and music festival fights to end child hunger nutritiously

During the long Canada Day weekend, June 28-July 1, Toronto will host Ribfest, a food and music festival that is working to eradicate child hunger.

Organized by the Rotary Club of Etobicoke, Ribfest is the largest festival of its kind in the area and sees over 50,000 people a day. Guests can enjoy 16 of the best barbeque masters compete for the title of “best ribs.” Twelve of the teams competing this year are form Ontario.

Aside from the ribs, the barbeque masters will be serving pulled pork, baked beans, and lemonade. There will also be carnival food and a Farmer’s Market for those looking for healthier choices.

The Rotary is asking for $2 donations at the gates to support local food programs. In addition to those funds, the Rotary hopes to raise $250,000 for community and international organizations.

The festival offers activities for all ages including face painting, magic shows, a midway carnival, and live music.

Fans can start helping the cause early on Thursday, June 27 at the Toronto Sounds of Summer. This special musical event will feature the sounds of the Jersey Boys, Four Season, the Beach Boys, Rascals, and more.

For more information about the event visit the official website.


Feel Good Food: These Charitable Food Brands are Helping in the Fight Against Hunger

If you’re lucky enough to have never faced hunger or food insecurity—the way 1 in every 8 Americans have—it’s certainly difficult to imagine. Many U.S. families battle hunger daily while even more live on the brink, where anything from a change in employment to unexpected healthcare costs can plunge them into daunting financial scenarios.

We may live in the wealthiest, most prolific food-producing nation on earth but still, some 41 million people (including 13 million children and five million seniors) struggle with some form of hunger. Blame the ever-increasing income gap or cuts to federal assistance programs but these facts, and the ongoing hunger crisis that they represent remain.

September is Hunger Action Month, a time when Feeding America—one of the nation’s largest nonprofits and a network of over 200 food banks and programs—brings special attention to hunger in America raising awareness on the issue, launching important partnerships and educating the masses on how they can help.

Many of our favorite food brands have stepped up over the years alongside charities like Feeding America (or on their own), joining in the ongoing battle to feed hungry fellow citizens. In honor and solidarity with Hunger Action Month, we’re tipping our hat to some of our favorite feel-good food brands who’ve committed to help those in need and continue to make good on their promise today.

King Arthur Flour

King Arthur FlourThe 200-year-old flour company has been on a feel-good mission for what seems like forever (they even came to my middle school in the ‘90s). It was 1992 when the Bake For Good Kids program officially kicked off, teaching school children to make bread and share it with those less fortunate. The program now reaches over 350,000 school-aged kids and benefits community charity partners in 46 states. In addition to its Bake For Good program, King Arthur Flour has donated more than one million meals through its partnership with Feeding America.

King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, $4.99 on Target

Trader Joe’s

If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in your neighborhood, I sure hope you’re taking advantage of it for those of us who don’t. In addition to your wealth of affordable avocados, cheap wine, and fabulous frozen apps, you can also enjoy some warm and fuzzies while shopping spree at America’s quirkiest grocer.

TJ’s has been quietly fighting against hunger for years, donating all of its food deemed “unfit for sale” (meaning odd-sized produce or dented cans) to local food banks to the tune of roughly $341 million worth of groceries in 2017. Good looks, TJ’s!

Simple Vodka

This Idaho-based potato vodka producer is on a steadfast mission to defeat hunger in America and has been since the jump. For every bottle produced, 20 meals are donated to a hunger relief organization, including Feeding America. Founders Danny Lafuente and Dan Maslow are on pace to donate one million meals later this year and it could be your martini that puts them over the edge.

In addition to being feel good, the sustainably sourced booze is made using eco-friendly practices and is pleasant hitting both the palate and wallet. Clean and smooth, Simple is priced at around $27 a bottle, meaning it could (and probably should) be your new go-to, feel-good vodka.

Panera Bread

You may know them for piping-hot bread bowls of broccoli cheddar soup but Panera Bread has also been fighting hunger in various ways for more than a quarter-century. This work includes extensive partnerships with Feeding America and, in 2009, the brand even began opening Panera Cares Community Cafes around the country, where folks in need could dine in and pay what they’re able.


A List of 2019 Rib Fests in and around GTA

Please leave a comment, if we missed any ribfests within 2 hours (

150 km by road) of downtown Toronto.

Verify all information with official websites.

Welland RibFest

A full weekend of food, fun, and entertainment as you enjoy all the event has to offer. Details

Rib Fest & Craft Beer Fest- Toronto

Features the rib teams from along with bbq foods from many of the cities different cultures and along with craft beer vendors! Details

Rotary Rib ‘n’ Roll – Brampton

Official kick-off of summer in Brampton with great entertainment, world-class ribs and food vendors. Details

Friday, May 24 to Sunday, May 26, 2019

Gage park, 45 Main St N, Brampton

Vaughan Ribfest

Produced by Ontario Festival Group we are bringing 5 of North America’s Best Rib Teams coming from Texas, Florida, Alabama, BC and Ontario. These “Pitmasters” are ready to serve you and your friends Award-Winning Mouth-Watering BBQ Smoked Ribs. Details

Friday, May 24 to Sunday, May 26, 2019

Improve Canada Centre , 7250 Keele Street, Vaughan

Adults $3, Children 10 & Under Free

Newmarket Rib & Craft Beer Fest

Great entertainment, world-class ribs and food vendors, vendors offering unique arts, crafts, antiques, clothing, and other items for sale, rides, and games. Details

Friday, May 24 to Sunday, May 26, 2019

Upper Canada Mall, 17600, Yonge St, Newmarket

Rotary Ribfest – Pickering

Great entertainment, world-class ribs and food vendors, and a licensed park. When you visit this year expect to be entertained! Our award winning outdoor event takes pride in the selection of family-friendly live entertainment geared to get your toes tappin’ and, in many cases, get up and show your best dance moves. Details

Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 02, 2019

The Esplanade Park, 1 The Esplanade, Pickering

Bowmanville Rockin’ Rotary Ribs and Brews Ribfest

Barbequed ribs and chicken, plus a beer festival with great craft-brewed beer, and live entertainment! Details

Clarington Fields, 2375 Baseline Rd W, Clarington

Free, donations appreciated.

Hamilton- Mountain RibFest

A full weekend of food, fun, and entertainment as you enjoy all the event has to offer. Details

Friday, June 7 | 4:00 PM -11:00 PM
Saturday, June 8 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, June 9 | 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

T.B. Mcquesten Community Park
1199 Upper Wentworth St,Hamilton

Erin Rotary Ribfest

Join us for The Rotary Club of Erin’s annual Ribfest!With a stellar music lineup in 2019 and ribbers eagerly vying for the people’s choice award, there are sure to be even more coming out this year! While beer and ribs are ribfest staples, kids deserve a little energizing too. That is why we are making sure there is fun for everybody so you can bring the whole family. This event is for everybody that likes food and fun! Details

Saturday, June 8, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

McMillan Park, 109 Main Street, Erin

Beach BBQ & Brews Festival – Toronto

Enjoy great BBQ, Live Music, Children’s Area (complete with rides!), BBQ competitions, Grilling Demonstrations, Craft Vendors and of course the Beer and Beverage vendors. Details

STARS & RIBS INNISFIL Ribfest

The Innisfil Ribfest & Music Festival Presented by INNISFIL COMMUNITY EVENTS. Produced by Ontario Festival Group we are bringing 4 of North America’s Best Rib Teams coming from Texas, Florida, Alabama, BC and Ontario. There will be a variety of festival foods like corn dogs, roasted corn, poutines, funnel cakes and of course to wash it all down nice cold beer. Plenty of activities including a Midway with rock climbing and games and Live Music music all weekend long. Details

Friday, June 14, 2019 | 05:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Saturday, June 15, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Sunday, June 16, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Innisfil Recreation Complex, 7315 Yonge St, Innisfil

$3, Children 12 & Under Free

Niagara Falls RibFest

A Whole Weekend of Great Entertainment. All proceeds are distributed back to the community through the Rotary Club of Niagara Falls. Details

Friday, June 14, 2019 | 3:00 PM -11:00 PM
Saturday, June 15, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, June 16, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Rapidsview Park, Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls

Oakville Family Rib Fest

Rotary Club of Oakville Trafalgar Family Ribfest has something for everyone to do! Ribs, cold beer and live music are complemented by hours of fun for kids in the PlayZone and lots of great shopping in the Marketplace. Details

June 21 – 23, 2019
Friday, June 21, 2019 | 04:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, June 22, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, June 23, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Sheridan College, Trafalgar Road Campus – 1430 Trafalgar Rd, Oakville

Rib Fest – Toronto

Rotary Etobicoke invites you to kick off your summer at our 17th annual Toronto Ribfest. With two stages going non-stop with free KidzZone activities with Toronto’s largest mobile midway, and with all kinds of fun daily attractions – this “Top 100 Festival and Event in Ontario” (for four years in a row) will not leave you wanting! Details

Canada Day Weekend (June last weekend)
June 28- July 1, 2019

Centennial Park, 256 Centennial Park Road, Etobicoke

Oh Canada Ribfest – Waterdown

Sponsored by The Rotary Club of Flamborough AM and Rotary Club of Waterdown, this four-day festival will celebrate Canada Day, local entertainment talent and ribs, while raising much-needed funds for the many local and international charities, projects and humanitarian causes the Rotary Clubs support. Events also include A children’s carnival area, with rides, games, food and refreshments and a licensed park. Fireworks on July 1 at dusk. Details

Friday, June 28 | 03:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday June 29 | 11:00 AM- 11:00 PM
Sunday June 30 |11:00 AM- 11:00 PM
Monday July 1 |11:00 AM- 8:00 PM

Midland RibFest

A full weekend of food, fun, and entertainment as you enjoy all the event has to offer. Details

Friday, June 28 | 4:00 PM -11:00 PM
Saturday, June 29 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, June 30 | 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

David Onley Park
475 Bayshore Drive

Markham Rotary RibFest

Come join us for a weekend of family fun, great food and music! Award winning BBQ ribs by some of the best ribbers in North America, gourmet food trucks, kids midway amusements, live music by local bands, beer garden and much much more! Details

Friday, July 5, 2019 | 05:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, July 6, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, July 7, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Downtown Markham, 179 Enterprise Blvd., (East Parking Lot), Markham

$2 per person Under 12: free

Ajax Rib Fest

Great entertainment, world-class ribs and food vendors, vendors offering unique arts, crafts, games.

Casino Ajax, 50, Alexander’s Crossing, Ajax

Whitby Rib Fest

Rib eating contests, tug of war, kids fest and more! Rotary Club of Whitby Sunrise. Details

Friday, July 12, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, July 13, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, July 14, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Whitby Victoria Fields,203-269 Victoria St W, Whitby south of Iroquois Park Sports Complex. South of Victoria Street between Gordon St and Watson Street.

Milton Rib Fest

Professional Ribbers, musical entertainment, a beer tent featuring Molson’s, activities for the kids and a huge selection of vendors for you to visit during your stay. Details

Friday, July 19, 2019 | 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, July 20, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, July 21, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 07:00 PM

Milton Fair Grounds 136 Robert St, Milton

Kawartha Rotary Ribfest – Peterborough

This annual 3 day event is organized by Kawartha Rotary Club and is co-sponsored by Peterborough Downtown Business Area. Enjoy the best barbecue in Peterborough at the Annual Kawartha Rotary Ribfest. Join us for a fun-filled weekend of lip smackin’ food, great music and entertainment, and loads of family fun! Details

Friday, July 12, 2019 | 11:00 AM -10:30 PM
Saturday, July 13, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Sunday, July 14, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Millennium Park, 1 King Street, Peterborough

Amacon Mississauga Rotary RibFest

Ribfest hosts vendors selling BBQ ribs and chicken, as well as several other diverse food and non-food vendors. Live entertainment is provided on the main stage, featuring a broad range of musical acts primarily focused on local talent, including Singfest, an amateur singing talent competition that culminates with the finals being held at Ribfest. Details

Memorial Park in Port Credit, Mississauga

Ancaster RibFest – Hamilton

A full weekend of food, fun, and entertainment as you enjoy all the event has to offer. Details

Friday, July 12, 2019 | 4:00 PM -11:00 PM
Saturday, July 13, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, July 14, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Ancaster Fairgrounds
630 Trinity Rd S, Ancaster

Orangeville Rotary Rib Fest

Every July, the Orangeville Rotary Ribfest serves up thousands of mouth-watering ribs with six internationally acclaimed ribbers. There will be the beer tent with beer, wine and coolers, and a midway for the kids located within the Ribfest venue. The continuous live entertainment on the big stage throughout the weekend, will keep your toes tapping. Details

Friday, July 19, 2019 | 04:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Saturday, July 20, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Sunday, July 21, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Alder St Arena, 275 Alder St, Orangeville

RibFest and Craft Beer Show – Kitchener

2019 marks the 16th Anniversary of this great community event, exploding with flavours of barbequed ribs and chicken, great craft-brewed beer, with live entertainment. Details

Friday, July 19, 2019 | 12:00 PM -10:00 PM
Saturday, July 20, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Sunday, July 21, 2019 | 12:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Victoria Park, 80 Schneider Ave, Kitchener

Rib Fest – Richmond Hill

Ribfest is a three-day outdoor event that features professional rib teams travelling to Richmond Hill from across North America. Ribbers cook and compete for various Best titles (as decided by honorary judges). And, in addition to the many delicious food options, there is also live entertainment, a beer garden, children’s and toddler’s fun zone with inflatables and an indoor children’s activity area to enjoy! Details

Friday, July 26, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, July 27, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, July 28, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Richmond Green Park, 1300 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill

Port Perry RibFest

Event is over 3 days (rain or shine) and includes award winning Ribbers, other food vendors, plus fully licensed open and tented area. Outdoor stage and premium sound system for musical performances, including headliner acts each evening. Details

Friday, July 26, 2019 | 12:00PM – 10:00 PM
Saturday, July 27, 2019 | 12:00 PM– 10:00PM
Sunday, July 28, 2019 | 12:00 PM– 7:00PM

Palmer Park, Port Perry Waterfront, Lake Scugog

Thornhill RibFest

A full weekend of food, fun, and entertainment as you enjoy all the event has to offer. Details

Friday, July 26 | 4:00 PM -11:00 PM
Saturday, July 27 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, July 28 | 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Dufferin Clark Community Center
1441 Clark Avenue West

London Rib Fest

London RibFest features an array of ribs for your tasting, fun exhibits, and rides. Details

August 1 to 5, 2019
Thursday to Sunday | 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM
Monday | 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM

St Catharines Rotary Rib Fest

Lip Smackin’ Finger-Lickin’ Ribs from all over North America Are you looking for delicious ribs, great music and fun for the whole family .Details

Civic Holiday Weekend in August.

Montebello Park, 64 Ontario Street St. Catharines

Scarborough Rib Fest

Enjoy delicious ribs, hot dogs, french fries, corn on the cob and more… Midway rides, and skill testing games, Karaoke competition everyday, Creative designs by crafters and vendors, All day beer garden and more! Details

Usually Civic Holiday Weekend

Friday, August 2 to Sunday, August 4, 2019 | 11:00AM – 11:00 PM
Monday, August 5, 2019 | 11:00 AM– 8:00PM

Thomson Memorial Park, Corner of Lawrence Ave. & Brimley Rd., Toronto

Wasaga Beach Ribfest

We have selected 5 of North America’s Best Rib Teams coming from Texas, Florida, Alabama and Ontario. These Pitmasters are ready to serve you and your friends Award-Winning Mouth-Watering BBQ Smoked Ribs. There will be a variety of festival foods like corn dogs, roasted corn, poutines, funnel cakes and of course to wash it all down nice cold beer. + a Midway with rock climbing and games and live music. Details

August 2 to 4, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Monday, August 5 | 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Beach Area 1 & 3rd Street Lot – Wasaga Beach

Woodbridge Rib Fest – Vaughan

Great entertainment, world-class ribs and food vendors, rides, and games. Details

Friday, August 9, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, August 10, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, August 11, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 09:00 PM

Woodbridge Fairgrounds, Porter Ave, Woodbridge

Quinte Ribfest – Trenton

5 Fantastic Ribbers will grace Centennial Park, Quinte West along with Family Fun Zone, Marketplace Zone, Raffle Zone and LIVE Entertainment Friday and Saturday & Sunday! Details

Friday August 9, 2019 | 11:30AM – 11:00PM
Saturday August 10, 2019 | 11:30AM – 11:00PM
Sunday August 11, 2019 | 11:30AM – 5:00PM

Centennial Park, Quinte West
12 Couch Cres, Trenton

$2 per person | $5 per family of 5

Brantford Kinsmen Annual Ribfest

Savour mouth-watering ribs, hamburgers, slow-roasted corn, blooming onions and cool treats like ice cream and snow cones. The Molson Beer garden will be open daily, which is always the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the live music. Award-winning ribbers from all over North America will showcase their finest ribs and sauces. Take some time to stroll through the Marketplace. Browse unique items while supporting local merchants. Brantford’s Ribfest has thought of everything this year. Details

August 9 to 11, 2019
Friday 4PM-11PM, Saturday 11AM-11PM, and Sunday 11AM-7PM.

Cockshutt Park, 35 Sherwood Dr, Brantford

Whitchurch-Stouffville Country Rib Fest

Featuring some of Canada’s great Rock and Country acts with the mouth watering Ribs and chicken, ReMax Hot Air Balloon Rides, Kids’ Zone with amusements and inflatables, Great musical acts, Merchandise vendors’ row and more! Details

Friday, August 9, 2019 | 2:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, August 10, 2019 | 11:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, August 11, 2019 | 11:00 PM – 07:00 PM

Memorial Park, Stouffville

Cambridge RibFest

Hosted by Rotary Clubs of Cambridge Sunrise & Cambridge North. Best 3-day food, fun & family event this summer! Live Entertainment & KidZone Play Area. Details

Friday, August 9, 2019 | 11:00 AM -10:00 PM
Saturday, August 10, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Sunday, August 11, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Free/ Your donation is appreciated.

Hamilton RibFest

A full weekend of food, fun, and entertainment as you enjoy all the event has to offer. Details

Friday, August 9, 2019 | 4:00 PM -11:00 PM
Saturday, August 10, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, August 11, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Gage Park
1000 Main St E, Hamilton

Rib Fest – Oshawa

Hosted by Rotary Club of Oshawa. Great entertainment, finger-licking good ribs and food vendors. Details

Friday, August 16 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, August 17 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, August 18 | 11:00 AM – 07:00 PM

Lakeview Park, 55 Lakeview Park Avenue, Oshawa

Northumberland Rib Fest – Cobourg

Great entertainment, world-class ribs and food vendors, rides, and games. Details

Friday, August 16, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, August 17, 2019 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, August 198, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 07:00 PM

Victoria Park, South of King Street, Cobourg

CNE Rib Fest – Toronto

Ribbers from evribwhere won’t want to miss this fabulous feast as a multitude of rib masters compete to win “best rib recipe”! Details

2019 Ribfest details (if any): TBA

CNE: August 16 – September 2, 2019 |11:00 AM- 10:00 PM

Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place, Toronto

Rib Fest – Georgetown

Great entertainment, top rib teams from across North America, serving up the most mouthwatering, finger lickin’ BBQ, vendors offering unique arts, crafts, antiques, clothing, and other items for sale, rides, and games. Details

Friday, August 16 | 04:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, August 17 | 12:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, August 18 | 12:00 AM – 07:00 PM

Georgetown Fairgrounds, 1 Park Ave

Rib Fest – Aurora

Not only will there be the tastiest ribs but you can also try your hand at roasted yams, roasted corn on the cob, beavertails and many other dishes.Live entertainment, an inflatable midway and activities for kids of all ages. A beer garden will be run by the Aurora Rotary Club. Details

Friday, August 23 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Saturday, August 24 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Sunday,August 25 | 11:00 AM – 08:00 PM

Free, 8 PM – 11 PM – (ticketed)

Ribs, Rythm & Rotary – Guelph

If you love cars, then you will love the Classics that will be on display at Ribfest in Guelph .Details

Friday, August 23 | Noon – 11:00 PM
Saturday, August 24 | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, August 25 | 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Riverside Park
709 Woolwich St, Guelph

Free (Donations at the gate are appreciated)

Orilla RibFest

A full weekend of food, fun, and entertainment as you enjoy all the event has to offer. Details

Friday, August 23 | 4:00 PM -11:00 PM
Saturday, August 24 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, August 25 | 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Tudhope Park, 500 Atherley Rd, Orillia

Canada’s Largest Rib Fest – Burlington

August 30 to September 2, 2019

Spencer Smith Park, 1400 Lakeshore Rd Burlington

Waterloo Rib & Craft Beer Fest

Great entertainment, world-class ribs and food vendors, vendors offering unique arts, crafts, games. Details

September 6 to 8, 2019
Friday 4 PM-11 PM
Saturday 12 PM -11 PM
Sunday 12 PM – 7 PM

100 Father David Bauer Dr, Waterloo

Owen Sound Ribfest & Music Festival

We have selected 5 of North America’s Best Rib Teams coming from Texas, Florida, Alabama and Ontario. These Pitmasters are ready to serve you and your friends Award-Winning Mouth-Watering BBQ Smoked Ribs. There will be a variety of festival foods like corn dogs, roasted corn, poutines, funnel cakes and of course to wash it all down nice cold beer. + a Midway with rock climbing and games and live music. Details

Friday, September 13 – 5PM-11PM
Saturday, September 14 | 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, September 15 | 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

1900 3rd Ave east
Owen Sound

Rotary Ribfests profits go back to the local community through various charitable programs and Northern Rib heat Series is a for profit company (as far as we know).


Ribbers got beef: Behind the scenes of Ontario's ribfests

This article was published more than 5 years ago. Some information in it may no longer be current.

T he St. Thomas Ribfest looks, smells and sounds like any other ribfest. Sunscreened families line up, sometimes for close to an hour, to pay $23 for a full rack of pork ribs or $13 for a half. There are lemonade stands, funnel cakes, face painters, ice cream vendors, children playing and five boisterous, smoking rib vendors. Four middle-aged men jam on Led Zeppelin covers at the bandshell in Pinafore Park, a verdant 90-acre space on the southern edge of town and a 30-minute drive south of London, Ont.

There is one important distinction about this ribfest: It is run by a 28-year-old entrepreneur and rib-world interloper named Justin Brown. “We’re blacklisted,” he explains. Rotary International, whose local chapters run more ribfests than any other organization in Ontario, has cost Mr. Brown award-winning ribbers, national sponsors and local charities, all of whom fear eviction from lucrative Rotary events if they work with him. “I’m just trying to put on an event in a city that doesn’t have one,” Mr. Brown says. “I like doing it, and I’m not gonna stop doing it. Take my sponsors, fine. I’ll find other people that are interested.”

In a smoky subculture with the scent of the Deep South and a firm footing in Ontario, several Rotarians view Mr. Brown’s fledgling for-profit rib series as an affront to their multimillion-dollar charitable system. “It’s pretty public that we’re upset about it,” says Jeremy Racicot, co-chair of Canada’s Largest Ribfest, a Rotary event in Burlington that many feel is uncomfortably close to Mr. Brown’s upstart Hamilton Ribfest. “It was tough for us to hear that there was a for-profit series that was sparking up, and it was in direct competition with our brand.”

It wasn’t just Hamilton. Mr. Brown has started ribfests in Welland (near St. Catharines Rotary Ribfest, 20 kilometres and three weeks apart), Georgetown (19 km from Rotary Rib n’ Roll, in Brampton) and Newmarket (26 km from Richmond Hill Ribfest, a municipally run event), all under his sleek Northern Heat Rib Series brand. This year, the St. Thomas Ribfest preceded the for-profit London Ribfest, run by Doug Hillier, by just a single week. But Mr. Hillier can handle it, and says he’s “disgusted” by how Rotary clubs have treated Mr. Brown. “Even though I do not like the St. Thomas Ribfest coming so close to me, I believe they have the right to do that,” he says. “Small business is how this country is run.”

Several ribbers still side with the Rotary. One told me Northern Heat would “kill the industry” others believe Mr. Brown’s business strategy is parasitical, draining nearby markets for his own private gain and working with charities as a guise. “Despite what [Mr. Brown] says, the fact is, he’s worded it very carefully,” says John Kasias, who runs Railroad Ribs. “If you know them, you know that’s lip service.”

In early 2015, Rotary clubs circulated a letter among ribbers admonishing Mr. Brown, suggesting the Rotary would protect its own interests. “They didn’t outright say, ‘We don’t want you doing this’ or ‘You can’t do this,’ ” says Tom Diavolitsis, who has run Boss Hogs BBQ for 10 years. Nonetheless, Mr. Diavolitsis quit Northern Heat’s Hamilton show. “It scared me,” he says. “They made a point of kicking Victor out.… I don’t want to fall into that same fate.”

Victor Anastasiadis, the 21-year-old who inherited the lauded Kentucky Smokehouse chain from his father, chose to remain in Mr. Brown’s rib series Mr. Brown is good friends with Mr. Anastasiadis’s older brother. After refusing to abandon Northern Heat, Kentucky Smokehouse was axed from Canada’s Largest Ribfest. Soon after, Mississauga followed suit.

Mr. Anastasiadis declined to comment for this story, but Rotary members are unapologetic. “We do not just do this on a whim. We spent a lot of time and a lot of consultation,” says Robert Peeling, the Burlington event’s co-founder. “We don’t help people setting out for private profit.”

Mr. Brown avoids phrasing it this way, but Northern Heat has exposed cracks in Ontario’s ribfest industry. Everyone The Globe and Mail spoke with agrees ribfests are good for local economies, charities and private business people. But Rotarians believe that donating 100 per cent of their profit is the right thing to do, while Mr. Brown, who has yet to profit from any of his ribfests, is content committing to a 10- or 15-per-cent donation in the future and use the rest to grow his business. Neither side says it wants to fight: Rotarians want Mr. Brown to simply move his events farther away, while Mr. Brown has already shifted around controversial dates to pre-empt confrontation.

But the schism exists, and ribbers looking to expand their businesses are left in limbo. “There’s nothing for them to say Boss Hogs can go to Burlington every year – I have to perform, I have to run a clean operation, I have to be professional,” Mr. Diavolitsis says. “But normally that’s always been enough. I’ve never had an issue where I’ve had to think twice about where I’m going.”

He sighs and leans back. “But I guess that’s just growing pains now.”

“If I have a month of raining, my year is over”

Ribbing Lingo

Like any industry professionals, ribbers have developed a jargon that outsiders may not grasp. A translation guide:

Ribfest - The Globe has defined ribfests as any community-oriented festival that exclusively brings in professional touring ribbers for main-course meals. (Arepas and Tiny Tom Donuts, for example, are not considered main-course meals, but may still appear at ribfests.) General barbecue competitions, which are more common in Western Canada, and ribbing festivals wherein local amateurs compete, are not considered authentic ribfests.p>

Barbecue – The act of roasting meat over a fire for at least 12 hours. What you do in your backyard for 30 minutes with chicken breasts and a propane tank, traditionalists would say, is not true barbecue.

Ribbing - A verb that encompasses everything professional ribbers do, rather than any specific facet of the job e.g. “Larry Murphy ribs out of Brewton, Ala.”

Saucing - The act of handing out sauce samples to lure in customers. (One of the Ontario Ribbers’ Association rules: “No saucing in the middle of the park.”)

Membrane - The film-like layer on every rack of ribs. Competition ribbers tend to keep the membrane while smoking ribs to contain the fats and flavour, though many will scrape it off as a final step on the grill before slathering on the sauce.

Rig - A ribber’s mobile kitchen, including refrigerators, ovens, smokers, grills, banners and countertops.

Convection oven - Ribbers cook their meat in an oven for around two to three hours before smoking it for much longer. The final step – flame-grilling the ribs, which customers see – is mostly for show, and to garnish the ribs with sauce.

Smoker - An industrial machine that smokes meat for anywhere from three to 16 hours. Ribbers toss logs, typically of apple or cherry wood, into a back section of the $20,000 machines. In the front there are five or seven spindles that rotate up to 100 pounds of meat each – meaning a five-spindle smoker can handle 500 pounds of meat at a time.

Ontario has hit peak ribfest. This is a distinctly heartland phenomenon: More than two-million people will visit one of the province’s 65 ribfests this summer. (There are only three dedicated ribfests in British Columbia Alberta has two.) “We pretty much saturated the market,” says Gus Sakellis, owner of Ribs Royale. “There’s nowhere else, really, in Ontario to go right now.” There are ribfests in towns as small as Gananoque, population 5,191, and as remote as Owen Sound, Timmins and Cornwall. In 2012, organizers in Toronto commemorated the 100th Grey Cup by bringing a mini-ribfest to Front Street this year, Ottawa is faced with a ribfest rivalry, with two in the downtown core and one in the suburb of Kanata, while Etobicoke hosted the world’s first-ever ribfest wedding, officiated in the ski chalet of Centennial Park.

Ribfests are popular, partly, because they’re successful. Burlington’s ribfest alone generated $3.3-million in economic activity around the city in 2014, including taxes, bought food and paid accommodation on top of that, it raised $230,000 for charity. Even smaller festivals punch above their weight: The Kemptville and Brockville ribfests, both organized by local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapters, garnered about 40,000 combined visitors in 2015 and raised more than $150,000, co-ordinators say. Virtually every ribfest will raise more than $1 for every attendee, with an average of 38,000 attendees in 2014. Every festival’s financing scheme differs slightly, but the pillars are constant: diligent fundraising, beer sales, vendor payments and corporate sponsorships.

These dollar figures preclude the ribbers themselves, whose business is made exclusively from hawking meat. Ribbers’ profits are closely guarded secrets, making ribbing perhaps Ontario’s largest cash-only industry. Vendors don’t accept credit or debit cards, and asking for a receipt will earn you a quizzical look from the cashier. One ribber sent me an angry e-mail when asked how much sauce he went through in a season. Many cite competitive or safety reasons for this several ribbers in Ontario have been robbed in the past.

Whatever they make, they spend much of it in overhead. To appear at a ribfest, they have to pay an entry fee of a few thousand dollars, and there’s also a small staff of cooks and cashiers to be paid and put up in hotels for a weekend. This is to say nothing of start-up costs: A decent-sized rig costs $250,000, according to Matt Smith, a veteran ribber who runs Gator BBQ. On top of printing new banners every year and buying the rig itself, which unfurls, Transformers-style, from a meek box of sheet metal into an open-kitchen restaurant replete with at least one (but more often two) $20,000 smokers jammed with up to 700 pounds of meat, there are safety certification costs, drivers’ fees and energy bills.

“I don’t make money till the last two shows,” says Bernie Gerl, who runs the storied Camp 31 out of Paris, Ont. Mr. Gerl says his income is on par with an average restaurant’s, with one important caveat: His venture is weather-dependent. “If I have a month of raining, my year is over,” he says. “This is a messed up business.”

The only insurance against the rain is keeping busy. It’s a big investment to build a second rig, let alone a third, but the rewards are significant. Boss Hogs and Gator BBQ spend summers in two provinces at once, sending one rig each across Western Canada while leaving their others in Ontario. Ideally, they can put each team to work every weekend of the summer, and spread them out enough that a storm won’t ruin business for all their teams.

This is why ribbers saw Northern Heat as an opportunity. Mr. Smith, like Mr. Diavolitsis, had planned on expanding with Mr. Brown’s rib series. Why not? He had the extra rig and wanted to keep his staff employed. Once the Rotary’s letter spread around, however, Mr. Smith withdrew from several Northern Heat shows, deeming it not worth the risk. As he put it to me, “Ribbers are gonna have to walk softly there.”

“A hurtin' little place”

It’s hard to understand Mr. Brown’s side of the story unless you’ve visited his hometown, St. Thomas. Once a booming railway hub before the train industry collapsed, the town thrived as an automotive-parts manufacturer until the 2008 recession sunk the local Ford and Sterling factories, slashing 6,000 jobs in the process. “We lost everything,” my cab driver told me as we passed the city’s most famous landmark, a statue of a carnival elephant named Jumbo who was struck by a train and killed here in 1885. “It’s a hurtin’ little place.”

Mr. Brown wasn’t living in St. Thomas during the recession, but he knew what was happening. Though boyish and bro-ish, a sharp business savvy undercuts his grey Blue Jays cap and scruffy blond beard. He started a landscaping business while studying at the University of Western Ontario, and has been organizing events for just as long his resume includes charity golf tournaments and London’s annual Block Party music festival. But he hadn’t done much for his hometown, 30 kilometres south. “I’ve got all these friends back here, and I’ve got family back here, and I’ve got ties the community,” he recalls thinking. “Why shouldn’t I do an event here? Why am I not going back? Why am I avoiding my hometown?”

In 2012, an idea popped into Mr. Brown’s head: Why not a ribfest? He spent the next two years developing the idea with the city’s Special Events Committee and the Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs, a government-funded business incubator that’s operated in St. Thomas since 1986. He brought it to city council in May 2014, three months before the event debuted. “It’s something residents were waiting for,” says Mayor Heather Jackson. “We don’t have a lot of big events. Three or four, tops. Nothing to the scale like this one.”

For that first year, Mr. Brown brought in veteran rib teams, including Kentucky Smokehouse, Boss Hogs and Gator BBQ. His mother helped organize volunteers his father handled the beer. As many as 12,000 people came out — more than one-quarter of the city’s population. Everyone agreed it was a success. Mr. Brown relaxed.

It was autumn, while Mr. Brown was sitting in his marketing office in downtown Toronto, that he began seriously reflecting on the event. He thought about how much he’d enjoyed putting on the ribfest, and how he’d like to do more. Then, the next obvious question formed: Where could he go?

He began randomly typing Ontario towns and the word “ribfest” into Google. He couldn’t go too far, nor could he double-up over Rotary territory. Eventually he settled on five cities that, while near preexisting ribfests, he still regarded as “underserved” communities. Georgetown residents could drive out to Brampton’s ribfest, but don’t 40,000 people deserve an event of their own?

Ultimately, the guiding question always led him back home. “If I’m gonna do another ribfest, where could I do it? Where are the ribfests now?” he recalls thinking. “Where are cities like St. Thomas?”

“Nobody knew what pulled pork was”

Some Canadians spend entire summer vacations road tripping between Ontario ribfests, marking a devotion that’s hard to imagine transposed onto, say, chicken wings. Wings are small and ubiquitous, whereas ribs are goofy and flamboyant, trickling with Down South exoticism and eaten, necessarily, in a vulnerable, child-like state – with messy hands and lots of napkins. This is the paradox of ribs: They are a food nobody should want to eat in public, yet millions in Ontario do.

It’s impossible to pinpoint why ribfests erupted in Ontario, but Mr. Hillier, whose London Ribfest is the oldest in Canada, has a theory. Barbecue festivals date back to the mid-19th century, when they were rowdy political events for U.S. presidential candidates such as George Washington and Andrew Jackson. In the background, black slaves would spend up to 12 hours roasting the meat.

Wealthy slave owners only wanted prime cuts: chicken breasts, rump roasts, pork shoulders. “The joke’s on them, because they didn’t get the sweetest meat – the sweetest meat is closest to the bone,” Mr. Hillier says. “Ribs, chicken wings, collard greens – all those things were soul food. We try to soften this, but it was the food of the slaves.”

Those who escaped to Canada through the Underground Railroad brought along the tradition of fire-smoked, open-grill cooking, Mr. Hillier says. Over the following decades, former slaves would celebrate Emancipation Day in border cities such as Windsor and Sarnia with massive barbecue festivals.

The competition element has a foggier backstory. As Jonathan Deutsch and Megan J. Elias write in Barbecue: A Global History, “Like barbecue itself, barbecue competitions are a simple concept that probably evolved in multiple locations, at multiple times, whenever one person said to another, ‘My barbecue is better than yours.’ ” Canada’s first was what is today London Ribfest, which began in 1985 as a barbecue competition. Mr. Hillier believes its founder was a man named Bill who, in 1988, handed it over to the local Boys and Girls Club, which rechristened it a ribfest but gave it up to Mr. Hillier in 2009 after deciding it was too much work for their volunteer group. Mr. Hillier has not been able to track Bill down to confirm the early details, though. “Some say he died of a heart attack, motorcycle accident,” he says. “Nobody knows.”

Around that same time, Larry Murphy – the grandfather of Canadian ribbing, a 63-year-old Alabaman with a wrinkled forehead whose thick drawl rhymes “sauce” with “house” – was running a general store called Camp 31 in Brewton, Ala. In barbecue circles, the state is known for its abundance of rural pigs and hickory wood, an ideal combination for smoked ribs. Mr. Murphy made his so well that Brewton’s police department sponsored him in a barbecue cook-off in Pensacola, Fla., where he surprised even himself by winning first place for sauce and ribs. “I wasn’t no competition,” he recalls today. “I was just down tryin’ to do the best I could.” He decided to turn his store into a rib shack and take his business on the road, touring across North America.

“He was a player down in the States, but he became the king up here,” says Mr. Smith of Gator BBQ. Back then, Mr. Smith was working for the carnival company Conklin Shows, which recruited Mr. Murphy into their national tours. “Nobody knew what pulled pork was,” he recalls. “Had to put a little extra on the ribs just to get people to taste it.”

Ribfests proved as popular as Mr. Murphy’s pulled pork until the Rotary got involved in 1994. Members Robert Peeling and John Thorpe were tasked with finding a new fundraiser when they considered a ribfest. Mr. Peeling chanced upon Mr. Murphy ribbing at the Canadian National Exhibition, and, after a 90-minute conversation that day and subsequent weeks of back-and-forth, committed to bring one to Burlington’s Spencer Smith Park. Even though that first festival, in 1995, was doused by rain and netted Rotarians just $850, “we still had people coming out, standing in line in the pouring rain, waiting for their ribs,” Mr. Peeling says. “That showed you there that something was right.”

“It became a war”

Canadian ribbing enjoyed a quiet first decade, but grew antsy in its teenage years, as more teams crammed into the Ontario circuit and increasingly costly border restrictions deterred Americans from entering the country. Competition got nasty: Ribbers began discreetly stuffing ballot boxes to rig audience-choice awards some set their trophies in front of rival teams others erected huge, confusing banners to mislead locals into thinking they’d won first place recently at any given festival. One owner alleges another took a pole to his rig and scratched it up. “All of a sudden, it became all about the money,” a senior ribber told me. “They were all doing it. It became a war.”

Something had to change. In early 2012, before the summer season kicked off, a dozen or so ribbers met in a hotel conference room and hashed out 10 rules for ribfest etiquette. “We sit down, we have a couple drinks two times a year, we decide what should we talk about,” says Mr. Gerl of Camp 31. “To stop the bullshit in the park.”

If Larry Murphy is the grandfather of ribs, Bernie Gerl is the godfather. A burly man of 50, Mr. Gerl has the large, calloused hands of someone who’s worked in restaurants all his life at age 17, he took a loan from his family to buy his own pizza restaurant in Hamilton. He helped launch Camp 31’s Canadian location in Paris, Ont., in 1995, and inherited the role of ribbing ringleader after Mr. Murphy retired. He is the association’s first and only president, and has a financial stake in several association rib teams.

Together, these ribbers standardized banners and prices, and slapped restrictions on sauce sampling and trophy placements. They chose a president, a secretary, a board of directors and a name: the Ontario Ribbers’ Association.

Although it originated as the ribbers’ United Nations, it evolved into something resembling a union. Ribbers suddenly had leverage against rising vendor costs and organizers’ arbitrary rules, and threw their weight around against what they saw as unfair requests, such as too many free meals or price hikes. “There’s been threats, game-playing and stuff,” says Hugh Williams, Toronto Ribfest’s director. “It’s part of the business.”

Ribbers and Rotarians are hesitant to talk publicly about these issues, because both sides agree the association has helped smooth out more problems than it’s caused. In fact, several ribfest organizers say they will only bring in association members, because it makes selecting ribbers easier. Mr. Racicot, in Burlington, wants to go one step further and adopt a similar union among Rotary ribfest organizers. “My thinking is we should band together to leverage our brand,” he says, which would allow a streamlined avenue for sponsorship across all ribfests in Ontario.

These parallel monopolies – those in charge of festivals and ribbers – shed light on how this industry functions. It is based largely on history and loyalty, who you know rather than how well you rib. It has allowed for a comfortable status quo to thrive for two decades.

This has created a brick wall for entrepreneurs on both sides. “It is tough for a new guy to get in, no question about it,” Mr. Gerl says. “Is it a problem? I don’t think it’s a problem.” The association doesn’t guarantee anyone a spot in a festival. Instead, entrepreneurial ribbers can head farther out into the province, paving their own way if they need to, pollinating Ontario with more and more ribfests.

Which is exactly what they’re doing.

“This is the beginning”

Gus Sakellis, a newer association member, is one of the last upstart ribbers in Ontario. After starting Ribs Royale in 2006, he spent four years trying to break into the scene. “It was very difficult to get into ribfests,” he says. “There’s not much real estate to go around.” Festival organizers select ribbers based on history and loyalty – a brick wall for entrepreneurs.

So in 2010, Mr. Sakellis created his own opportunities. Instead of working a second job during the winter months (as done by certain ribbers, dubbed “weekend warriors” by full-timers), Mr. Sakellis toured rural Ontario, pitching ribfests to non-profits around Thunder Bay, Kemptville and Perth. “We were quite taken by surprise year one,” says Jim Comuzzi, who organizes Ribfest Thunder Bay with the city’s downtown BIA. They expected 12,000 people to show up twice that many did.

John Kasias, who founded Railroad Ribs in 2010, is in a similar situation. Railroad is a small rig with few awards to its name the first time he played London Ribfest, Mr. Kasias walked away in the red because of the several-thousand-dollar entry fee. The following year, on the same weekend, he worked an event that cost him only $1,000 to enter, and now frequents such non-ribfest events as Buskerfest in Toronto and Westfest in Ottawa. “I choose to see opportunity in all places,” he says.

Mr. Sakellis and Mr. Kasias are clever and intrepid business owners, just as Mr. Brown is and, like Mr. Brown, they are helping expand rib culture exponentially, in pockets of Ontario that would otherwise lack the spectacle of live fire-grilled ribs. And yet the ribbers themselves have eschewed criticism of market saturation, while Mr. Brown has been bludgeoned with it.

“It’s a slap in the face to Justin,” says Rob Mise, the general manager of St. Thomas’s local radio station and a staunch supporter of Mr. Brown’s. “Here’s a guy who wants to go and start a business, employ people, get the economy going in these markets, too. Why should Welland go without a ribfest? Is that fair?”

Welland is perhaps Northern Heat’s most controversial market. It is 15 kilometres and three weeks apart from St. Catharines Rotary Ribfest, one of the oldest in Ontario. Wade Stayzer, who organizes the event, says he’s more worried about retaining local sponsors than he is about attendance, and “would love to see Justin focus on communities without ribfests.”

How communities are defined is precisely the problem. For many Rotarians, it is an area beyond city borders, mingling tourists with locals and turning dollars into donations. According to Mr. Brown’s side, a community is any municipality of ribfest have-nots who want an event to call their own.

There’s some precedent for blurry market definition. The Rotary Club of Cambridge kickstarted a ribfest 16 kilometres away from Kitchener’s ribfest, a for-profit event that had been running strong for a decade. Mr. Stayzer helped the Niagara Falls Rotary club set up its own ribfest 20 kilometres away from St. Catharines. “We don’t see it as a big deal,” Mr. Stayzer says, because seven weeks separate the two events and both raise money exclusively for charities.

The Rotary cannot avoid Northern Heat indefinitely popular business models are destined for enterprise growth. Several Rotary ribfests, such as those in Burlington and Toronto, are expanding to include full-time salespeople and celebrity chefs. Ribbers are cultivating Western Canada, with the hopes that, 10 years from now, B.C. and Alberta will be as bloated with pork and ribs as Ontario is now.

Mr. Brown isn’t sure yet if he’ll add more cities next year, but even if he doesn’t, others surely will. Mr. Mise, at least, has faith. “This is the beginning,” he says. “This is only gonna get bigger, bigger and bigger. He’s not stopping.”

You walk into the park and see a dozen rigs. They’ve all got heaps of golden trophies and first-place banners. Old men with beer bellies and thick white beards are calling you over to every direction. How do you choose?

Ignore the trophies. Everyone’s won trophies. Some ribbers won’t even display them, preferring to focus on the product and character of their teams. If you really care about awards, look to their banners and see who won the most recent first-place awards. (Even this will be fairly arbitrary.)

Get sauced. Most teams, especially at big festivals, will send a staffer out to give out samples. Since every ribber buys meat from the same few sources, sauce is a key differentiator.

Don’t follow the lines. Once ribbers have a few people waiting for food, they’ll slow down – this is called “building the line.” Consumers are more inclined to line up behind 50 people than they are to be first in line at a quiet rig, because they assume popularity denotes quality. It doesn’t – it just means staffers are working slower.

None of them are American. Whether their names refer to the likes of Kentucky, Louisiana, Florida or Alabama, they’re all Canadian now. Brands may have originated down south, but they would have been bought by Canadians years ago. And those Southern accents, we’re sorry to say, are just part of the show.


Advertisement

“It’s an original Jamaican jerk chicken, but we’ve tamed it down a little over the years because it was a little bit too hot,” said Riley, who moved from Jamaica to Toronto when he was 12.

“People like the Jamaican flavour. It’s different, and it’s introducing people to something they don’t have every day. And the response has been great. And our sauce has a little bit of spice, too. It’s not as sweet as the other trucks’ sauces. We’re coming from spice, so we tend to have spice in what we do.”

The Grand Ribfest is organized by the Grand FoodFest Foundation, which organizes similar events across Quebec. Proceeds from the sale of reusable cups and forks and beer are given to local charities. The organization will announce which charities receive the money on the final day of the Grand Ribfest.


Here at Trident, catching fish isn’t just our business. It’s our livelihood. It’s our calling. We are all fishermen here, and catching the purest and healthiest seafood is what we do — it’s what we’ve done for more than 40 years. And if we stay true to our beliefs in protecting the oceans where we fish, it’s what we’ll be doing 40 years from now, too.

The story of Trident Seafoods starts back in 1961, when a 19-year-old kid with nothing but a dream drove an old Ford from Tennessee to Seattle, in search of a great adventure at sea.

That 19-year-old kid was Chuck Bundrant. And that little “adventure” stretched into a 12-year journey across Alaska, aboard any ship he could find, discovering everything there is to know about fishing and crabbing along the way.

Chuck met two other likeminded crab fishermen in the early 1970s, Kaare Ness and Mike Jacobson. All three pooled their money together and built the Billikin—a 135-foot boat that not only changed the course of their partnership, but also changed the course of the entire seafood industry. The ingenious Billikin was the first vessel of its kind to feature crab cookers and freezing equipment onboard, so their fresh catch could be processed as soon as it was pulled out of the water instead of coming all the way back to shore.

That partnership over 40 years ago marked the beginning of Trident Seafoods. And that 19-year-old kid from Tennessee would become its founder and CEO. Chuck Bundrant could never have imagined how far that little “adventure” back in ‘61 was going to take him.


5. Chosen Half Marathon

"The Prettiest Race in Texas" can be found in New Braunfels — located in-between Austin and San Antonio — and raises funds for orphans and adoptive families. The Chosen Half Marathon and 5K exists to help children as they are adopted into families and provide care to orphans not yet adopted.

"Race fees go directly to help care for children who need safe, loving, permanent families," says race founder Jenni Lord. "There are more than 165 million children worldwide who are orphaned and more than 10,000 children in our area in the foster care system. We raise money and awareness for these vulnerable children." There have been zero failed adoptions with members served by Chosen, thanks to the mentoring, education, therapy and outreach provided to its families.


Our next Dinner And A Movie celebrates Phish’s famed 1998 Island Tour! We’ll be featuring the April 4, 1998 show from Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island, nearly 23 years to the day. Join us on the couch this coming Tuesday at 8:30pm ET at webcast.livephish.com. Chef Sara Bradley is the chef and proprietor

Our next Dinner And A Movie features Phish’s February 22, 2019 show from Barceló Maya Beach, Riviera Maya, Mexico. Join us on the couch this Tuesday at 8:30PM ET at webcast.livephish.com. What’s on the dinner menu? Classic Chile and Cheese Tamales and Black Bean Soup! Full recipes can be found below. Don’t forget to tag


Ten Young African Millionaires To Watch

While African millionaires and billionaires like Onsi Sawiris, Raymond Ackerman, Aliko Dangote and Deinde Fernandez may have more money than most of us can ever dream of, there’s one thing they can never buy: Youth. Even money has its limits.

But there are a handful of young Africans in their 20s and 30s who have built businesses and amassed enviable million-dollar fortunes. Call them million-dollar babies. While some are corporate animals others are empire builders- like Ladi Delano, the restless 30 year-old Nigerian entrepreneur who founded Solid XS, a hugely successful premium Vodka business in China when he was barely 23 years old. He subsequently flipped his vodka company for millions of dollars. Today, he is a co-founder and CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa, a $1 billion investment vehicle committed to making acquisitions in Nigeria’s mining, energy and agriculture sectors.

There are thousands of young and immensely successful entrepreneurs across the African continent. There’s a growing number of Africans aged 40 and under who are legitimately amassing multi-million dollar fortunes. They don’t inherit stuff they build it themselves.

Here are ten you need to know:

Mark Shuttleworth, South African

When Shuttleworth was 22, he founded Thawte, a digital certificate and internet security company which he sold to VeriSign for $575 million in 1999, when he was 26. Shuttleworth used a fraction of his proceeds to start HBD Capital (now called Knife Capital), a Cape Town-based emerging markets investment fund. HBD has made a series of successful exits including Fundamo, a mobile financial services company which was acquired by Visa for $110 million in 2011 and csense, which was acquired by GE Intelligent Platforms the same year. Shuttleworth also founded and funds Ubuntu, a computer operating system which he distributes as free open source software. Shuttleworth has a net worth north of $500 million.

Ashish Thakkar, Ugandan

Thakkar, 29 is a co-founder and CEO of Mara Group - a Ugandan conglomerate with tentacles in financial services, hotels, renewable energy, technology and manufacturing. Annual revenues are approximately $100 million and the group has an active presence in 16 countries on four continents. Devoted philanthropist: Through his Mara Foundation, Thakkar provides mentorship and seed funding to young East African entrepreneurs. Also funds Next Generation Schools, an independent charity focused on improving education quality in disadvantaged secondary schools in Uganda. The Mara Group recently signed a $300 million deal with the Tanzanian government to develop a 3.5 million square foot state of the art mini-city.

Ladi Delano, Nigerian

The jet-setting Nigerian serial entrepreneur made his first millions as a liquor entrepreneur while living in China. In 2004, at age 22, he founded Solidarnosc Asia, a Chinese alcoholic beverage company that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka. Solid XS went on to achieve over 50% market share in China and was distributed across over 30 cities in China, and pulled in $20 million in annual revenue. Delano subsequently sold the company to a rival liquor company for over $15 million and ploughed his funds into his next venture-The Delano Reid Group, a real estate investment holding company focused on mainland China. Today, Delano is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bakrie Delano Africa (BDA) - a $1 billion joint venture with the $15 billion (market cap) Bakrie Group of Indonesia. Bakrie Delano Africa serves as the investment partner of the Bakrie Group in Nigeria. The Indonesian conglomerate has provided over $900 million worth of funds to invest in Nigeria and Bakrie Delano Africa is responsible for identifying investment opportunities in mining, agriculture and oil & gas and executing them.

Justin Stanford, South African

South African-born Stanford is a software entrepreneur and venture capitalist. After dropping out off high school, Stanford set out to launch an internet security company which flopped. When he came across ESET, a Slovakian anti-virus software package, he negotiated with its manufacturers and cornered the exclusive, lucrative Southern African distribution for the product. Today, Stanford’s ESET Southern Africa operates the ESET brand in the region and sells ESET’s range of internet security products in about 20 sub-Saharan countries, leveraging on an extremely successful internet business platform and digital distribution model for online software sales and service. Today, Stanford’s ESET brand records over $10 million in annual turnover and controls 5% of the anti-virus market in Southern Africa. Stanford is also the founding partner of 4Di Capital, a Cape Town-based venture capital fund. Stanford is also a co-founder of the Silicon Cape Initiative, a non-profit movement that aims to turn the Cape into Africa's own Silicon Valley.

Magatte Wade, Senegalese

In 2004 Magatte Wade founded Adina World Beat Beverages, a San Francisco beverage company that manufactures coffee, tea and fruit juices using traditional beverage recipes across Africa and organic ingredients sourced from smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia. Within five years of launching, Adina raised over $30 million in venture capital from institutional investors and the products began being sold by Whole Foods and United Natural Foods. Magatte stepped down from her position as CEO to grow her second company, Tiossan, a manufacturer of luxury skin care products based on indigenous Senegalese recipes.

Mike Macharia, Kenyan

When he was 25, Macharia, a Kenyan national, founded Seven Seas Technology, now easily East Africa’s most reputable IT services firm. The $50 million (annual sales) company is a leading provider of integrated business and technology solutions across Africa in the telecom, financial, Real Estate, service industry and government. Seven Seas is gearing up to get listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange next year.

Vinny Lingham, South African

Lingham, a South African national, is the founder of Yola Inc, a San Francisco-based Web 2.0 outfit that provides free website building, publishing and hosting services to over 3 million active users across the globe. Yola has attracted over $30 million in venture capital financing from institutional investors such as Columbus Venture Capital, a subsidiary of South African billionaire Johann Rupert’s Richemont Group. Prior to Yola, Lingham founded Click2Customers, a hugely successful search engine marketing company with offices in London, Cape Town, and Los Angeles. Click2Customers rakes in about $100 million in annual revenues. Lingham is a co-founder of the Silicon Cape Initiative along with fellow South African entrepreneur Justin Stanford.

Kamal Budhabatti, Kenyan

Kamal is the founder and CEO of Craft Silicon, a $50 million (market value) Kenyan software company which provides software in core banking, microfinance, mobile, switch solutions and electronic payments for over 200 institutional clients in 40 countries spread across four continents.

Yolanda Cuba, South African

Executive Director, South African Breweries

One of just two women to make it to this list. When Yolanda Cuba was 29 she was appointed CEO of Mvelaphanda Holdings, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed investment holding company. She was awarded stock options worth over $10 million which she exercised before stepping down as CEO last year. She subsequently took up a job as an Executive Director at South African Breweries. Cuba still serves on the boards of South African blue chips such as Steinhoff International Holdings and Absa Group.

Jason Njoku, Nigerian

The maverick Nigerian Internet entrepreneur is founder of Iroko TV, the world’s largest digital distributor of African movies. Iroko TV has been dubbed the ‘Netflix of Africa’. Earlier this year, Iroko TV raised $8 million in venture capital from Tiger Global Management, a New York-based private equity and hedge fund run by billionaire Chase Coleman. IrokoTV enjoys lucrative content distribution deals with Dailymotion, iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo. Njoku is unwilling to divulge figures, but analysts believe IrokoTV could be worth as much as $30 million. Njoku is the company’s largest individual shareholder.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Yolanda Cuba is not the only woman on the list, but one of two women. The other woman is Magatte Wade of Senegal.


A Short History of the Distillery District in Toronto

Today, the Distillery District is a historic escape that provides a unique experience for locals, close to a journey back in time. What makes the district distinctive is its Victorian architecture, right in the heart of Toronto. The village is also considered a Canadian National Historic Site. You are surrounded by the nostalgic atmosphere of Victorian Industrial Architecture and cobblestone walkways as you walk through the Distillery District. Specialty boutiques, rustic coffee shops, restaurants, and more are studded along the pathways. However, the village was not always the historic landmark it is today. Throughout the past almost 200 years, the Gooderham and Worts distillery has undergone rich transformational change, and has remained staunch to Toronto through all its stages of sprouting into a metropolitan centre.

1929 – Billboard location (1) 1966 – Gooderham & Worts

James Worts immigrated from England to Canada in 1831 and, with his brother-in-law William Gooderham, opened a mill for grinding grain. Two years later, during childbirth, Worts’ wife died, and he ended his life. Gooderham, however, persevered and stayed with the company, partnering with Worts’ eldest son. Gooderham added a distillery to the mill in 1837, due to the rise in harvesting grain from Upper Canada farms, and thus began to produce whiskey.

By the 1850s, in the midst of the bustling and developing nature of the city, the Gooderham and Worts distillery was flourishing and thriving. In addition to the former distillery and flour mills, the distillery included a wharf, storage facilities, an ice-cream shop, a barrel-making cooperative and a dairy.

Mill Street and Trinity. – [between 1977 and 1998] District, Distillery. – [between 1977 and 1998 Gooderham opened a new distillery on Mill Street in 1859, recognized as the most significant contribution to the manufacturing industry in Toronto. Sadly, a fire destroyed parts of the main building in 1969, forcing Gooderham to rebuild the building for his company to continue to survive.

In 1871, Gooderham and Worts became one of the largest exporters in spirit production, shipping millions of gallons of whiskey all across Canada as well as throughout North and South America. At one point it was the largest distillery in the world. After the death of Gooderham and Worts’ son, Gooderham’s son inherited the distillery. Between 1914 and 1920, WWI and Prohibition began to stall spirit production. In 1923, he was forced to sell the withering business to Harry C. Hatch, who partnered with Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd., renaming the business Hiram Walker-Gooderham & Worts Ltd. In 1927 with a pivot towards Canadian Club whiskey production, operations shifted to Windsor, officially concluding the production of rye whiskey at Gooderham & Worts in 1957.

District, Distillery. – [between 1977 and 1998]

1990 – Excavation and construction in Distillery District

In the 1990s, The Distillery District was revitalized as it became known for something new, film. The intimate region became the number one film hub in Canada and the second outside of Hollywood, over 1700 movies being filmed there. Completing its refashioning, Cityscape Holdings bought the distillery in 2001. They began the project of restoring the district in order to turn it into a pedestrian only neighbourhood that would preserve its heritage, “entirely dedicated to arts, culture and entertainment.” Finally in May 2003 the district reopened and ever since has been one of Canada’s top tourist attractions.

District, Distillery. – [between 1977 and 1998] District, Distillery. – [between 1977 and 1998] Today it plays an integral role in the culture and energy of the city, hosting the annual Distillery District Christmas Market, a 10 day event with inspiration taken from the spirit of the traditional European Christmas Markets. The market truly characterizes a Toronto holiday season, infusing visitors with holiday spirit as they take in the festive music of carollers and choirs, twinkling lights strewn across the buildings, holiday-inspired food, and the grand 50 foot Christmas tree. Distillery District, featuring Gooderham and Worts sign


Watch the video: GENEROSITY (December 2021).