TORONTO, August 21 – Summer is the season of road trips and the inaugural Woodbine Ribfest will be a welcome stop on Hawgs Gone Wild’s cross-continent tour.
Hawgs Gone Wild is one of five award-winning rib teams that will be cooking up mouthwatering BBQ at next weekend’s Woodbine Ribfest, presented by Budweiser, running from August 25-27 at Woodbine Racetrack.
The festival season is well underway for Hawgs Gone Wild’s Mark and Robyn Wilson, whose ribfest road trip began back in March in St. Augustine, Florida. Typically, travelling to 24 shows in a season, the Wilsons have braved all types of weather and travel conditions to share their Floridian-inspired flavour with cities in their native province of Ontario and across North America.
“We’ve had people whose goal was to follow us to every single show and eat a full rack of ribs at every single show that we attended,” laughed Mark Wilson. “At that time, it was probably 16 events, but the same guy and his buddies followed us to every event and had a full rack of ribs at every show.”
While Hawgs Gone Wild has developed a fan following of many hardcore rib lovers, Wilson says the majority of people that come to the ribfests are local attendees looking to enjoy some great food, music and activities on a summer day with family and friends.
The Wilsons tow the Hawgs Gone Wild equipment and display – including an impressive trophy collection – from city to city for their rib teams, and their ribfest road trips have not been without some memorable and unexpected moments.
“A few years ago, one of our setups used to be an old bus that we had completely decaled out and we were on our way to Belleville and it’s a very hilly drive,” explained Wilson. “We were going up a hill and we were losing speed because it’s just a lot of weight, and this guy pulled up beside me and he was waving his arms to pull over.”
Wilson grew concerned and pulled his haul over to the side of the road to determine what had gone wrong when the man came running up to him…
“Hey, do you do catering?” he said.
“That’s all he wanted to ask!” laughed a relieved Wilson, who shared Hawgs Gone Wild’s catering information with the fan and then got back in his vehicle to begin his long assent up the next hill.
“It took me forever to get any kind of speed going again up that hill!” he laughed.
While their travel adventures are part of the fun, the passionate pit master is looking forward to going head-to-head with some familiar rivals in the taste-testing competition at Woodbine Ribfest, which will mark his first visit to a racetrack. Hawgs Gone Wild will be vying for awards in categories such as Best Ribs, Best Pulled Pork and Best Sauce. For the competition, all rib teams use the same meat with their own rubs, sauces and different woods to smoke the meat.
“The cool thing for us is that we compete against a lot of the same teams at these shows so all the teams generally get along and help each other out whenever possible,” said Wilson, but added, “There’s always rivalry, for sure, everybody thinks that they’re the best.
“We like going head-to-head against Camp 31. And Sticky Fingers is another team we like going head-to-head with. Uncle Sam’s is another team. It is competitive and we take it very serious, but it’s funny, before the awards we shake each others’ hands, we tell them good luck and wait for whoever wins, and whoever wins gets a congratulations from all the other teams.”
Like any competition, on the racetrack or behind the grill, a little rivalry and good sportsmanship adds to the enjoyment of the day for all participants and patrons.
“It is a rivalry, everybody wants to win, but we’re realistic,” he said. “Depending on what town you’re in, they like different flavours so if your sauce is a little sweeter, you may win in this town, if you’re sauce is a little smokier, you may win in this town, so it’s all over the place.”
Woodbine Ribfest attendees will get the chance to savour the flavours of Hawgs Gone Wild, Camp 31, Uncle Sam’s BBQ, as well as Billy Bones BBQ and Pistol Pete’s Oklahoma Smokehouse.
For more details on #WoodbineRibfest including event activities, performers and access to a live viewing of the highly-anticipated Mayweather vs. McGregor fight, click here.
Woodbine Ribfest Event Hours:
Friday, August 25
Ribfest: 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Post Time: 3:45 p.m.
Saturday, August 26
Ribfest: 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.*
Post Time: 1 p.m.
Fight Night: 9:30 p.m.
*event will end after the broadcast of the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight
Sunday, August 27
Ribfest: 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Post Time: 1 p.m.