Canterbury Village Hosts 5th Annual Michigan Rib Fest with National Rib Vendors

Smoked meats and barbecue smells return to Canterbury Village, over the 4th of July weekend after being canceled due to the pandemic. Hundreds of people line up to try their favorite pork chop or southern collard greens.

This is the 5th annual Michigan Rib Fest and lasts from July 1-4, it is a festival that features over 10 BBQ restaurants or catering groups as well as other small businesses. Six are national vendors bringing flavors from all over the United States

Cowboys Barbecue and Rib Company of Fort Worth, TX brought their best blend of ribs and spirit. This restaurant business has been around for over 30 years. Chef Duanne “Big Baby” Luckett says they’re dedicating their shows this year in honor of their founder.

“We dedicate these shows this year to our founder Dallas Grand, who passed away a few months ago,” Luckett said. “We love you Dallas, and we appreciate the help and the work he has given us. We are carrying on the legacy.”

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Luckett and his team served a list of Southern soul dishes.

“I’ve got pork, you don’t need a fork, I’ve got brisket is a ticket, I’ve got mac that’ll bring you back, beans and veggies will make a scene, hallelujah, hallelujah”, Luckett said.

His favorite dish is Texas beef brisket. The menu will also include coleslaw, potato salad and jalapeno cornbread.

Food is not the only thing served, customers can also shop for clothes, desserts and jewelry vendors. With live performances every day including local musicians.

Some rib aficionados like Sabrina Vinson and Megan Vinson from Detroit have traveled over 30 minutes to sample great ribs. The two sisters came with their father after hearing about the event on Facebook.

Sabrina tried the Cowboys Texas beef brisket, and it lived up to her expectations.

“It’s really good. It’s not too spicy, I have a hint of spice, it’s tender,” Sabrina said. “It’s got like a really bold flavor.”

People from across the state traveled to the village of Canterbury in Lake Orion to enjoy the Michigan Rib Festival on July 2, 2022. Local and national competitors prepared ribs with other types of grilled meats.  Big Mac cooks ribs at Off The Bone Barbecue in Alabama.

His sister Megan came out for the short ribs.

“My favorite is the short ribs with a really good honey BBQ sauce,” Megan said.

Along with their St. Louis cut ribs, they added macaroni and cheese and collard greens on the sides.

“The greens are okay,” Megan said. “I mean, it’s not my mother’s vegetables but you know.”

Grills from out of state weren’t the only ones smoking the place, Ken’s Smokehouse, a Detroit barbecue caterer, was giving a taste of Midwestern barbecue.

George Shortridge now owns Ken’s Smokehouse after his father started the business but died last year. Before his father passed away, he created a rub specifically designed for ribs.

“I can’t tell you what it’s all about,” Shortridge said. “But it’s just genetically engineered for those ribs and to give us an authentic taste that nobody has.”

Shortridge also specializes in St. Louis-style ribs. It’s actually his first time at the rib party and he doesn’t feel intimidated by the nationally-awarded rib teams.

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“They’re not intimidating at all,” Shortridge said. “They just have big, pretty signs but I got the meat.”

Shortridge does not have a restaurant but does offer a food service and is an avid street vendor with a few gigs planned for the future.

The Carolina Rib Kings were also in the house and served ribs, beef brisket, and other southern fare. Timothy Fergestrom and his girlfriend Danielle Wood from Davison, Michigan stopped by and tried their meat, macaroni and cornbread with a choice of pulled pork, brisket, chicken, sausage or two ribs on top. Both put brisket on their macaroni and cheese. Fergestrom describes the taste of mac and cheese.

“Savory, and you can taste the wood in the grill,” Fergestrom said.

Fergestrom also ate St. Louis ribs from Off The Bone BBQ, a group from Mobile, Ala. He describes them as tender and juicy. Woods also agrees.

“They literally fell off the bone and they were really, really good,” Wood said. “Very, very juicy, as Tim said, and very smoky. Just really good.”

The couple planned to try fried pickles and more ribs from other vendors.

With only two days left, tickets are $7 per person online. Children under two, military and veterans enjoy free admission.

All festivities are held at Canterbury Village at 2359 Joslyn Ct, Lake Orion.