The Living Sky Casino's first large event after the lifting of COVID-19 public health restrictions helped to raise funds for healthcare in southwest Saskatchewan.
The 2021 Living Sky Casino Ribfest took place in partnership with the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation.
The event was held in the Living Sky Casino parking lot in Swift Current, Aug. 6-8. Patrons were able to enjoy meals prepared by ribbers Gator BBQ from Port Dover, Ontario, and Regina's Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ.
The Healthcare Foundation raised $9,000 through Ribfest sponsorships, which will go towards the purchase of a fetal monitor for the Obstetrics Unit at the Cypress Regional Hospital.
This monitor has a price tag of $30,000 and funds raised at Ribfest will help to reach that target. The Healthcare Foundation already raised $15,000 through its Charity Golf Classic in June.
The winners of the best sauce and best ribs awards at Ribfest were selected by a panel of celebrity judges on the final day of the event.
The five judges were Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley, Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority Regional General Manager Trevor Marion, Swift Current professional hockey player Joel Rumpel, Swift Current City Councillor John Wall, and Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Director Karla Wiens.
They selected Gator BBQ as the winner of the best ribs awards and Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ received the best sauce award.
Ribfest visitors could vote online for their favourite ribber, and the people's choice award went to Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ.
Marion spoke briefly before the start of the celebrity judging. He said this year's Ribfest was initially planned as a drive-through event, but the lifting of pandemic restrictions made it possible to have a walk-up event.
“This was our first event after our COVID experience and it was great to see all the faces, great to see the public and it was great to have all the delicious ribs that we have here this weekend,” he mentioned.
He looked ahead to next year and indicated the casino is planning to host Ribfest again in 2022.
“Taking a look at next year, we're going to make sure the Ribfest stays current with the summer months,” he said. “We'll look to get back to where we were before the COVID situation. So we can look forward to that one.”
Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Jim Dekowny also made some remarks. He expressed appreciation towards all the Ribfest sponsors that made the event a success.