Ribfest, Nice Canadian Beer Competition and the Victoria Cheese and Meat Competition returning this weekend

Esquimalt Ribfest, Great Canadian Beer Festival, Victoria Cheese and Meat Festival

Victorians can again eat, drink and be merry as three food and drink festivals return after a two-year forced hiatus for some.

With sunshine in the forecast, organizers of Esquimalt Ribfest, the Great Canadian Beer Festival and the Victoria Cheese and Meat Festival are all hoping for capacity crowds this weekend.

Of the three, the Esquimalt Ribfest never fully went away the past two years. In 2020, to get around COVID-19 restrictions, a drive-through event raised $5,000 to benefit the community. Last year, organizers took advantage of the relaxing of restrictions to host the event on short notice. “We had an organizing committee that hoped for the best and prepared for the worst,” said Tom Woods, Ribfest committee chair.

“Because of their work, we were able to keep the flame burning on the barbecue.”

Visitors can sample barbecue ribs and sauce prepared by six professional “ribber” teams that vie for the coveted People’s Choice Award. There is a Kid Zone with crafts and activities.

Outside operating costs, all Ribfest proceeds are funneled back into the community through the Esquimalt Firefighters Charitable Foundation.

Free admission, but donations accepted. The event runs noon to 10 pm today and Saturday, and noon to 9 pm Sunday at Bullen Park, 1140 Lyall St. More details at esquimaltribfest.com.

The taps have been dry for the past two years for organizers of the Great Canadian Beer Festival, so they expect a surge of patrons. “There has been lots of interest and people are excited that we are back,” said Joe Wiebe of the Victoria Beer Society, which hosts the event.

About 3,500 people are expected to attend each of the two days of the festival. There will be about 80 Canadian craft breweries and cideries at the event. Food vendors will be on hand. Entertainment includes a live Oktoberfest band, an inflatable obstacle course, a disk jockey and fun games.

Single day tickets are $45, with a two-day weekend pass at $80. The event runs 4 to 9 pm Friday and noon to 5 pm Saturday at Royal Athletic Park, 1014 Caledonia Ave. More details at victoriabeersociety.com.

With a return to an in-person event, the Victoria Cheese and Meat Festival has moved into a larger venue, making it possible to accommodate 35 artisanal food and beverage vendors.

“We have had a surge of interest from vendors who are really keen in showcasing their products,” said David Bain, who is producing the event.

Tasting tickets are $95.75 and gets you access to the tasting session time you select. There are still tickets left for the 3 and 7 pm tasting sessions. The event takes place Saturday at the Car Shop (E&N Roundhouse) at Bayview Place, 253 Esquimalt Rd. More information at cheeseandmeatfestival.com.

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