The pandemic has once again doused the grills of the Kamloops Ribfest, but organizers are already planning for a 2022 version.
The annual fundraiser is organized by the Rotary Club of Kamloops Daybreak. In its first eight years of operating in Riverside Park, Ribfest raised more than $650,000 for local charities and organizations in the Kamloops area, with the economic impact of the 2019 event estimated at more than $1.7 million.
Last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic, but an online raffle raised more than $30,000 for charities.
Spokesperson Bryce Herman said the Ribfest committee had discussed planning for the August event, then talked about creating a drive-thru version on McArthur Island.
However, with COVID-19 case counts rising, along with the more contagious variants of the virus, and with the possibility of further health restrictions being issued, Herman said the committee decided to add 2021 to the 2020 ledger and concentrate on creating Ribfest 2022.
“It’s almost like deja vu, as a matter of fact,” Herman said. “ I was talking with Mike Miltimore [of Lee’s Music] yesterday and he said exact same thing to me. He said everything's getting canceled until September. He said it's like deja vu of March last year.”
Herman said the committee did not want to have plans in place and tie up McArthur Island with a full weekend event in August, only to be forced to pull the plug between now and then.
“You don't want to be in a position where you're the spoiler for not being able to have a small sports event over on Mac Island because you've got the whole island tied up for a drive-thru Ribfest event,” he said.
In addition, Herman said, an event like Ribfest takes months of planning and requires various deposits for myriad services.
“If you start on a thing like Ribfest, the problem is that you've got to make commitments on fencing and other things that are cost items. We need to put deposits on them,” he said. “The last thing that any of us wants to do, especially a service club, is go and say, “Oh, by the way, we've decided to cancel. Can we have our deposit back?’”
Herman said the ribbers who come to Kamloops and travel across the country in the summer have told him they are experiencing similar situations elsewhere as there remains so much uncertainty due to the pandemic.
The Rotary Club of Kamloops Daybreak is a volunteer-based community organization, supporting and raising funds for many non-profit and charitable organizations throughout the region. All proceeds of Rotary events, including Ribfest, are returned to the community through grants and donations.
Meanwhile, the club will be hosting a driver-thru Lobsterfest at Colombo Lodge on May 8, with proceeds going to A Way Home Kamloops, an organization focused on helping homeless youth find shelter.
Herman said the non-profit is the focus of a three-year endeavour, with a goal of raising $75,000 for the organization.
The website for Lobsterfest is scheduled to go live on Friday, April 9. There will be 380 tickets available for the May 8 drive-thru/pick-up event. In addition, the website will feature an online auction and a 50/50 draw.
Click here for updates on ticket sales.