Ottawa Ribfest is a smoky, savoury feast!

ABOVE: The Alabama-style ribs from Camp 31 were so decadent, and fell off the bone.

This weekend Ottawa is hosting one of its most delicious annual events — Ribfest. It’s back on Sparks Street for three blocks of delicious BBQ with vendors from across North America selling ribs and other meaty goodness like sausages, chicken, brisket, pulled pork, and other southern comfort foods like cornbread, coleslaw, and potato salad.

The participating vendors take grilling and smoking seriously; the huge teams are a testament to the full-rack-sized effort it takes to cook up. The enormous stalls are emblazoned with decorations from previous rib fests wins.

Just being on Sparks Street, you can't help but grow an appetite for the Southern cuisine being served up all around you. A wall of smoke hits your senses first, followed by the smell of homemade BBQ sauces bubbling on the grill — it won't take long before you start to salivate.

The ribs, of course, are the main attraction. All eight vendors are cooking up smokey, tasty, fresh-off-the-grill ribs and home-style sauces that you can buy to take home for your own backyard grill.

We sampled the offering from Camp 31 Grill. Originally from Brewton, Alabama, now with a location in Paris, Ontario, Camp 31’s Alabama-style ribs were so decadent and fell off the bone. The BBQ sauce has the right amount of sweetness to complement the highly savoury taste. The pulled pork melts in your mouth—decadent, and the chicken is so juicy and smokey it almost doesn’t taste like chicken but something incomparably better. The cornbread is also fantastic—moist on the inside with a crusted outside, a perfect combo to complement the ribs.

There are plenty of other stands at Ribfest serving up equally delicious ribs, including; Silver Bullet from Guelph, Hawgs gone Wild from Daytona, Florida, Uncle Sams from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Billy Bones, From Michigan, Sticky Fingers from South Carolina, and Gator BBQ from Naples, Florida.

All the grillers are rib pros who travel across North America, competing for the title of the best in the ribs. Of course, no Ribfest would be complete without a contest, and Ottawa’s Ribfest has categories in Best team, Best sauce, Best rib, and Best chicken.

If you’re looking for a delicious treat that is less meaty but just as tasty, try the spiraled potatoes on a stick served up with designer ketchup flavours ranging from bacon to ghost pepper. You can also get roasted corn on the cob, baked potatoes, and even roasted yams.

If vegetables aren't your fancy, you can try the deep-fried mac and cheese bites, buffalo fried cauliflower, or a scrumptious giant butter tart.

On the drink side of things, if you are looking to try something different, Harry Potter fans can get a butterbeer drawn right from the keg into your mug, or you can try a traditional homestyle root beer!

If you're craving an actual beer to wash down your chicken and ribs, patios on Sparks are open, and some, including the Freshii, allow patrons to sit down with Ribfest fare.

Ribfest will run until Sunday, June 5th. Visit Sparks Street from 11 am to 10 pm Friday and Saturday and between 11 am and 7 pm on Sunday.

The event and entertainment are free but make sure to bring cash to purchase some smokey, savoury goodness!

Getting there: Click here to plan your trip using the OC Transpo Trip Planner.
Parking: There are many downtown parking options, including $5 evening and free weekend parking at the World Exchange Plaza.