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Gator BBQ boasts best southern smoked ribs at Penticton’s Ribfest

Four-day Rotary Club of Penticton Ribfest kicks off this Friday runs to Monday
Co-owner Matthew Smith of Gator BBQ with the two best of trophies his team won at the Rotary Club of Penticton Ribfest in previous years. Ribfest in Penticton begins Friday at Okanagan Lake Park. (Mark Brett – Western News)

There’s going to be tough competition at Ribfest in Penticton this weekend.

READ MORE: Grilling a Penticton Rotary Ribfest ribber: sauce is still secret

Mike and Laurie O’Neill, who works for Gator BBQ, claim they make the best southern smoked meat at the Rotary Club of Penticton Ribfest. And the secret is in the sauce and the dedication to quality of their rib master Nick Smith, who hails from Port Dover, Ont.

“Nick Smith is our pit master who is in charge of all of the quality of the food, the sauces, everything. He has such a passion for it. It’s just his whole life and it’s such a big deal for him. Quality is the number one thing for him, it’s everything,” said Mike.

“The thing that differentiates us from everyone else is our sauce and our rub. The cherry wood gives it the flavour but the sauce has a citrus flavour to it that makes it stand out from everyone else. It’s sweet and a little bit tangy. It’s delicious. The secret is in the sauce.”

READ MORE: It pays off to be a volunteer with Penticton Ribfest

The story of Gator BBQ is as old as time. Guy meets girl, they fall head over heels in love, the rest is flavourful history. Flash forward years of trial and error later and this family has built and perfected an empire—an empire built upon barbecue.

“We are the best. We are number one,” added Laurie.

Some other rib masters at this weekend’s event include Rob Reinhardt with Prairie Smoke & Spice and Chad Cannon of London, Ontario’s Boss Hog’s Smokin’ Chophouse, among others.

The 2019 Penticton Rotary Ribfest runs this Friday to Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. On Monday, it’s on from noon to 11 p.m.

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Robin Grant
Reporter, Penticton Western News
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