St. Stephen – Rib lovers, rejoice! You won’t have to travel to Saint John or Fredericton to get your Ribfest rib fix. Ribfest is coming to St. Stephen. Michelle Vest, events coordinator for the Town of St. Stephen, said the popular event is happening in the parking lot at the Garcelon Civic Center. This event has been growing in popularity over the past several years in other parts of the province, and now a couple of Ribfest vendors will give Charlotte County residents a chance to enjoy their special barbecue recipes.
For what Vest called a “trial run”, there will be two popular Ribfest vendors set-up in the parking lot at the Garcelon Civic Center, Texas Rangers BBQ and Crabby’s BBQ Shack. This is to be the first of many Ribfest events that are going to take place in St. Stephen in the coming years.
“We’ve been trying to work something out with these guys for a few years,” said Vest.
“We were finally able to get it done. We had to update some of our power boxes to accommodate the power, but moving forward, it’s a long-term plan with them. We are entering into an agreement for them to come back for the next few years. That’s already been signed off on. We’re hoping to grow it once COVID is over, and have it like a proper Ribfest down here at the GCC. This is kind of our trial run.”
In compliance with COVID-19 social distancing protocols, this is going to be a drive-thru event. Vest said the entrance will be at the side of the parking lot, which is the regular entrance, near Pagan Street and Princess Street. Cars will enter, then people will tell parking attendants which of the two barbecue take-outs they want to order from.
“They’ll tell us which of the two barbecue places they want to go to, because there’s going to be separate lines, they’ll drive through each of them. It’s just like a drive-thru. I think if the orders aren’t ready they’re asking people just to pull over into parking spots,” said Vest.
Vest said parking for civic centre clients will be moved for the two days Ribfest is happening to the corner of the parking lot. It will be marked off, and members of Charlotte County Ground Search & Rescue (CCGSAR) will be directing traffic. Vest advised library patrons may want to park on King Street or the RBC parking lot, as the parking area for the library over the weekend will be in the far corner of the civic centre parking lot, which would be a bit of a walk.
Lori Mackenzie from Charlotte County Ground Search & Rescue said her organization has done a fair bit of traffic control, so this is an excellent fundraiser for them, and possibly their only one this year due to COVID-19. She said the organizers for Ribfest laid out a drive-thru process, and told them what will be needed for traffic control.
“They needed a non-profit community partner to partner with, so the town reached out to CCGSAR because we do have a background doing traffic control. We’ve actually done a fair bit of traffic control as a team, so it seemed like a perfect fit,” said Mackenzie.
CCGSAR has a background in traffic control, which made the organization the obvious choice for Ribfest. Mackenzie said they use radios for communication, and wear safety vests. They also use an instant command system, which Vest said works well when they are working with traffic.
“We work in a controlled team,” said Mackenzie. “We use an instant command system, so everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing, when they’re supposed to be doing it, and who they report to. You’ve got no misunderstandings of how things are supposed to work.”
Mackenzie said in order to abide by social distancing protocol, and to reduce litter, customers are asked to not get out of their vehicles at all. This service is completely drive-thru. CCGSAR is also taking care of ground clean-up, and they are hoping that with people staying inside their vehicles, there won’t be much litter to clean up.
Ribfest takes place Friday, September 11 and Saturday, September 12 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily. The St. Stephen Farmers’ Market will also be taking place on Friday, so there will be lots of great food and a whole lot more. This is sure to be a fun event for the whole family.