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London Ribfest making a smoky return to Victoria Park for summer 2021

The 2021 London Ribfest took place in Victoria Park from July 29 to Aug. 2. Global News

It’s been a long wait, but barbecue fans can rejoice: London’s annual RibFest will be returning to Victoria Park for the 2021 summer season, albeit with some changes.

After being cancelled last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a number of other summer festival staples, 2021 RibFest, which will run July 29 to Aug. 2, will be the first summer festival held in person in the downtown park since the summer of 2019.

“We’ve got our ribs, we’ve got our beer vendors… we’ve got all the elements we need to have a fantastic time,” said organizer Doug Hillier, president of Family Shows Canada, on Wednesday in an interview with 980 CFPL’s Mike Stubbs.

The opening of the festival will come just two weeks after the province’s move to step three of its reopening plans. The third and least restrictive step, set to take effect Friday, allows for large outdoor gatherings and organized public events, with limits.

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Read more: RibFest cooking up in-person event for London, Ont., this summer

While Ribber’s Row will be in its usual spot along Wellington Street, those hoping to take in some midway rides before chowing down will be out of luck, Hiller says.

“We don’t have the rides. I really worked hard towards that, but we don’t have rides. We’ve going to have to do without that,” he said.

“But we do have an extra stage… We have a second stage of live music.”

This year’s RibFest will also be limited to the Ribber’s Row area of the park, Hillier says, meaning fewer vendors will be present during the weekend event.

“We have gone to the letter of the law. You’re permitted to fence an area of the park, but only 25 per cent of the park, and that’s what we’ve done. It just so happens that’s Rib Row,” he said.

Due to the province’s pandemic restrictions, this year’s RibFest will be limited to 1,000 people in the enclosed area at any given time. “That’s usually our high occupancy anyway,” Hillier said.

“It worked out that the rules were in our favour and the responsibility we have (to) put on this event safely has been told to the Board of Health and Board of Health appreciates the way we put this together,” he added.

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Read more: Holy Roller leaves Victoria Park for first time in decades for badly-needed restoration

Attendees will be asked questions before entering, and measures such as masking and social distancing will also be in effect.

“It’s going to be, probably, one of the safest places to actually come because of all the (health) protocols that we’re going to follow.”

Ribbers taking part include Boss Hog’s, Fat Boys, Gonzalez BBQ, Kentucky Smokehouse, Louisiana Bar-B-Que, Oak & Barrel, Route 55, Silver Bullet, Smokehouse Bandits, and Texas Jack’s.

Craft breweries and drink makers on hand include Anderson Craft Ales, Bangarang, Cowbell, Forked River, London Brewing, Powerhouse, and Railway City.

Full details can be found at CanadasBiggestParty.com.

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