Ribfest 'ribbers' ready to serve up fine BBQ cooking

"The rub, the love and the God above."

That, says Chad Cannon, is why Boss Hog's makes the best ribs going.

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Of course, everyone who goes to Ribfest this weekend will be the judges and they will have four "ribbers" to choose from as they converge on Pacific Western Brewing for the event, put on by the Nechako Rotary Club.

But there is no doubt Cannon, who also goes by the nickname Red Dragon, will score high on showmanship - the kind of showmanship that comes with a passion for the pastime.

Cannon's tractor-trailer was the first of the four to roll into the city on Wednesday. He hails from London, Ontario, where a restaurant of the same name is found, and is on the road for four months of the year.

From Kelowna to Vancouver to Windsor to Edmonton, he's bounced around the country to the tune of 15,000 kilometres so far this season, and will remain on the road until mid-September.

"I get to experience the nature of Canada and the beauty of it," Cannon said. "It's not a normal job. Who gets to go to a new city every week and meet new people? And all the concerts that we hear, all the different types of music. It's an experience you can't beat."

For Prince George, he will have nine staff on hand cooking up St. Louis-style side ribs - a full rack weighs in at as much as 40 ounces - as well as baby back ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken plus sides like corn bread, beans and coleslaw. Boss Hog's has been known to cook as much as 20,000 pounds of meat over a weekend.

Cannon, who has been at it for 23 years, credits trial and error for coming up with Boss Hog's award-winning taste.

"It's the rub, how much wood you use, how much sauce you use, how you grill it, it's the whole combination," Cannon said. "We have basically messed everything up and now we've perfected it. We've made the mistakes for you to enjoy the best barbecue in Canada."

Boss Hog's has a shelf full of trophies as a result. But so do the others which include Gator BBQ from Port Dover, Ont., Prairie Smoke and Spice, out of Pilot Butte, Sask., and Misty Mountain, based in Hinton, Alta.

"We were lucky to get the premier group," said Nechako Rotary Club past-president Robert Quibell. "We've tried this a few times over the last three years and this year we got it all to work...there's nobody better."

Regardless of which vendor you choose, you'll come out ahead, said Cannon.

"We do all of the traveling," Cannon said. "All you do is bring cash and here you go. We do all the clean up - we're better than Skip the Dishes."

Admission is free with dinners ranging in price from $10 to about $40 depending on the choice. There will also be plenty of Pacific Western Brewing beer on hand as well as volunteers to drive patrons home if they've gone above the legal limit.

Proceeds from the event, which includes a 50-50 raffle, will go towards projects to ease the homeless situation in the city.

"We try to do something that's long lasting," Quibell said. "All of our proceeds over the next few years will go in the same direction because we recognize that this is a big problem, it's not something that's going to be solved overnight."

Ribfest gets going at noon on Friday with all ages ending at 5 p.m. and adults only starting at 5:30 p.m. and running until 11 p.m.

Hours on Saturday are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for all ages and adults only from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. On Sunday, it's all ages from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, go to www.pgribfest.ca.

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