Premier pops into town, flips a couple of racks at Ribfest, blows some smoke and head off for Hamilton.



September 1, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Premiers don’t just pop into town any time.  Visits are calculated and timed and carefully planned.  Sometimes media are alerted, sometimes not.

Part of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s on -the-job training as she learns to flip a rack of ribs at Ribfest.

For this half day trip through part of south-west Ontario the Premier chose to start in Burlington at the Ribfest, do two events in Hamilton and on to Paris, Ontario to end her day.

These are casual summer walk abouts; no speeches – just shaking hands and posing for pictures.  Premier Kathleen Wynne spent fifteen minutes in the Rotary VIP tent and then strolled the grounds – flipped a couple of racks of ribs, said a few words to the CHCH news camera and assured the Gazette that she liked ribs but was not a frequent eater, and that yes she had worn an apron recently, in fact she baked a pie at home just a week or so ago and that the smoke from the ribs grill was something she was used to – having recently advised the public that she had in fact had an experience with smoke in her distant past.

Mayor Rick Goldring explains to these lads who the lady with the apron on is.

The Ribfest was doing just fine the day we were wandering around.  Decent crowds, good music and line ups at the more popular rib stations.

Interesting why the public lines up before one seller but not another.  All the ribs from Fearman’s –the difference between sellers is in the sauce that each uses.  Rising high above each stand are signs that tell of the awards the seller earned with their “bling” set out on a stand for all to see.

The length of the line-up told which ribs were most popular.

Which ribs you buy is based on the price: – a rack is $22 at every station.

Chow down time – this was finger ‘lickin’ food.

Getting into Spencer Smith Park for Ribfest is a lot different from getting there for the Sound of Music. There is fencing around every foot of the park except for entry points at each end.  People are literally funneled into the park and have to sort of run a gauntlet of commercial enterprises that want you to take the Pepsi test, or look at the Sun Life insurance product or check out something to do with getting better use out of your car tires.

These are the kind of pictures that you look at to see who you know – and are they making a funny face.  There is a videographer in there who knows what a good lunch is all about.

Once you get through that “gauntlet” you are into the open area with those huge signs either side of the park.  You don’t get to see much of the lake from the park.  When you do get out of the park and choose to walk out onto the pier – always nice – there is a cluster of commercial vendors with their food trucks  lined up.  I got the feeling there was a little more hucksterism than I was comfortable with.

Ed Eves, President of the Rotary Club of Burlington Lakeshore squires the Premier of the province around Ribfest Saturday afternoon.

There didn’t seem to be a quiet place to sit in the shade and chat with a friend.  The tables where you sat to eat reminded me of something out of men’s university dining hall where you felt the tables were going to be tipped on their side for a food fight.  They were jammed in so tight that it was difficult to get to a seat.

One thing we did notice was how quickly the tables were cleared.  There were more than a dozen stations to chuck the paper plates and a finger washing stand close by.

If you looked around there was still some sitting room. The weather was close to perfect and the music was good – great way to bring a summer to a close.

Burlington appears to be the biggest Ribfest in the province and it certainly drew the crowds.  Rotary sponsors the event – and at $22 a rack – Rotary must do well financially allowing them to do what they do around the world.  Be nice to learn more about what they actually do with that financial haul?



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