Financial woes may force the cancellation of next month's Vernon RibFest event

RibFest in peril

A tasty event planned for next month is in jeopardy.

Financial woes may force the cancellation of the Vernon RibFest.

Elaine Gallacher, with the Vernon RibFest Society, said a $30,000 shortfall must be made up for the event to go ahead as planned July 8-10 at the Vernon Curling Club.

Gallacher said grants from the city and the regional district did not materialize as hoped, and the City of Vernon has doubled what it charges to rent the venue to $10,000.

Gallacher said between the rent increase and not receiving a $5,000 grant from the regional district, the event has been put in doubt.

In 2019, Rib Fest received $5,000 from the regional district for the 2020 event, which was cancelled due to COVID.

Last year, the RDNO asked for that money back, and while Gallacher knows there was no guarantee, she said organizers applied for and were hoping to get the $5,000 for this year's event.

“We are a not-for-profit organization and we cannot carry that financial load,” said Gallacher, adding Vernon Tourism has promised $3,000 for the event, leaving a $27,000 funding gap.

Gallacher said they had been counting on more support from local government to make the event happen, noting it checked all the boxes to promote local tourism, the region and local businesses.

Another problem is the 'ribbers' have already made plans to be in Vernon next month and between wages and product, they have more than $100,000 invested in the event.

The four ribbers have also booked hotel rooms and arranged their schedule to be in the North Okanagan, placing a burden on them as well.

“They come from across Canada to bring this event to our community and they can't afford to lose this event,” she said, adding the ribbers are planning to have a meeting this morning to discuss their options to “see if they can help us out.”

More information on that meeting will be known later today.

Gallacher said RibFest is about a lot more than eating barbecued ribs. It is a venue for locals to showcase their talent – the Rocking the Rib Fest talent contest has been held every Sunday in Vernon for the past month – as well as a place for vendors to sell their wares.

“Everything is in place, everything has been put together, and we have been doing everything we can to make it happen, but with such a time shortage we are in a crisis situation,” she said.

There are ways people can help. They can simply donate money to the event, or they can book a table with all reservation fees going to cover event costs.

For more information, go to the Vernon RibFest website or Facebook page.

More Vernon News