Brantford Kinsmen Ribfest will officially be returning as a scaled down drive-thru version of the popular event, which will run from Friday, August 11 to Sunday, August 13, 2023.
Event organizers previously held the event at Cockshutt Park for ten years before they received news that special events were no longer allowed on its sports field.
As they continued to search for a new permanent location, the Kinsmen Club held their first Ribfest since the pandemic at the Brantford Civic Centre in the summer of 2022.
While this year they were looking forward to celebrating the festival’s 12th anniversary, the club notified the public in May that they were canceling the event due to lack of a suitable location, and a decrease in sponsorship and volunteers.
Jeff Harding, Entertainment Coordinator for the Brantford Kinsmen Ribfest, said that while they would have set up at the Civic Centre again this year, the current renovations interfere with the property needs.
“One of the reasons for not having the full festival at the Civic Centre this year is because the Bulldogs are now there and they’re doing construction,” he said. “Obviously a full-size event takes up a much bigger footprint than what a drive-thru event does. Last year, the event was in the parking lot along the side of the building facing Earl Haig and that’s where the construction is actually happening.”
As both locals and traveling visitors expressed their feelings over the news, Harding said they heard the public and found a way to bring the event back by organizing with the City to use the front parking lot of the Civic Centre closest to the Casino.
“Most people seem to be happy to have at least the option while for some people, they really enjoy coming for the full weekend with the bands, the children’s entertainment and the marketplace vendors,” said Harding. “So, for them, the drive-thru event really doesn’t cut it, but I think that’s okay because we’re hoping to be back in full swing next year and this will hopefully give us a few extra months to prepare for 2024.”
Harding noted that while this is a drive-thru event, walk ups are more than welcome throughout the weekend.
Three ribbers will be onsite for visitors to choose from including Brickyard BBQ, BBQ Junkies and Brantford’s Crazy Canuck Smokehouse. Food will be served on Friday, August 11 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., and 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on both Saturday, August 12 and Sunday, August 13, 2023.
The Kinsmen Club of Brantford is a local non-profit service organization that has been helping the residents of Brantford and County of Brant for over 80 years.
Harding said the event is just one of their annual fundraisers as they help to serve the city’s greatest needs.
“The main fundraising is for cystic fibrosis research, but the club also contributes to youth charities such as the Boys and Girls Club, and other organizations focused on health, hunger and humanity,” he said.