Tens of thousands flocked to downtown for Hot Nite, Ribfest, organizers say

Hot Nite, RibFest did well

Hot Nite in the City and RibFest drew tens of thousands of visitors to downtown Kamloops this past weekend, with organizers reporting busy and successful events.

Ron Popove, organizer for Hot Nite in the City, said this year’s show and shine saw a total of 527 registered cars, up about 100 from last year.

“I'm pretty pumped about it. It was a really really good show,” Popove said.

He said a head count from the RCMP indicates about 40,000 people walked through Saturday's car show.

“We were moving cars in and we had spectators already,” Popove said, adding that vendors and attendees with displays were kept busy all day with inquiries.

“People are already downtown at eight in the morning enjoying the car show.”

Hot Nite in the City ran an event in 2021, while this year marked RibFest’s return after two years off due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Popove said the events complement each other.

“Definitely, one enhances the other," he said.

"And their numbers probably increased because of our car show, and vice versa.”

Bryce Herman said the Kamloops Daybreak Rotary Ribfest had its largest turnout yet.

"For us, it was our best RibFest ever,” Herman said.

Herman said organizers used drone flights to plot the number of visitors during the closing acts each day, estimating 15,000 attendees on Friday and Sunday, and over 20,000 visits on Saturday evening.

“The numbers were massive,” Herman said, adding in 2019, RibFest’s biggest night saw about 12,000 visits.

Herman said a festival-style count — which may include several visits from the same person — led organizers to estimate they pushed close to 80,000 visits over the entire weekend, up from 60,000 in 2019.

“The ribbers had record sales on Friday night, record sales on Saturday night,” Herman said, adding that he wasn’t sure about Sunday’s numbers, but he assumes that day also saw record sales.

“Considering we are the largest in Western Canada, to start surpassing that, that's pretty amazing.”

Herman said the Morfco Supplies Ltd. tent sold as much corn on Saturday as it did during the entire weekend event in 2019, and attendance nearly doubled in the Save-On Family Fun Zone.

Despite large numbers, Herman said the event ran smoothly, with attendees leaving the park each night in an orderly fashion, and using the festival’s waste sorting stations — a new sustainability initiative from Rotary Daybreak.

“People leaned in, and had very much a lot of respect for the space and what was going on,” Herman said.

Howie Reimer, executive director of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, said he thought it was fantastic to see so many people downtown.

“To have both RibFest and Hot Nite in the same weekend, it's really become one of the benchmark events and a destination event for Kamloops,” Reimer said, noting while some businesses opted to close on Saturday, patios for restaurants, pubs and cafes downtown were full.

He said organizers for both RibFest and Hot Nite give back to Kamloops, working to put together the events “for the love of community.”

Herman said he doesn’t have a final tally yet regarding money raised through RibFest for Daybreak Rotary programs, but 100 per cent of the proceeds will stay in Kamloops, supporting primarily senior and youth groups.

"We would just like to thank the public for coming out, being so incredibly supportive of Rotary, of Rib Fest and sustainability, because we couldn't do it without the support,” Herman said.

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