PARRY SOUND – It’s never too early to be thinking about summer, or ribs.
Back by popular demand, Ribfest will be returning this summer, filling the bellies of Parry Sounders and visitors alike on the Bobby Orr Community Centre (BOCC) grounds.
Earlier this week, town council approved the event, which is increasing its hours of operation and duration by one day.
During its inaugural run last year, the three-day event served approximately 13,000 people, said town leisure services co-ordinator April McNamara.
“The continuity of the event will only increase participation and make it bigger and better,” wrote McNamara in her report to council.
“This year, the organizer is extending the duration of the event by one day. Their participation projection is 20,000 people.”
Because the BOCC building would be open during Ribfest for the public to use its washroom facilities, Coun. Bonnie Keith wanted to know if another event could be held at the same time.
“The original plan did encompass use of parts of the Bobby Orr Community Centre, the organizers have since changed said plan and everything is outside. That is an idea, or thought that could be entertained, providing that parking would not be required as the event takes place in the lot,” said McNamara.
Keith asked for staff to come back to council with a report to see if an additional event could be held in conjunction with Ribfest, however Lynn Middaugh, director of development and leisure services, reminded council that Ribfest is not a town event.
“This is an event that is being organized by other parties. I would suggest rather than a formal direction or resolution at this point, that we go back, have a conversation with the organizers and look at other opportunities to maximize the space there at the arena,” said Middaugh.
“From my view point if the facility is going to be open, if there is a way that we can have more people come in and use that facility when we’re having one event going on, that’s good for our town,” said Keith.
Additionally, Ribfest kicks off on Thursday, July 11, and ends Sunday, July 14, operating for four days instead of three. As well, the Friday and Saturday nights, the hours of operation are extended, from 11 a.m. through to 1 a.m.
“As an attendee (last year) at 11 p.m. I was sad to leave,” said Coun. Brad Horne. “So I think that extending the hours is very much a commitment to the organizers and also to the patrons that attended.”
Coun. Keith Saulnier said his family spent a great deal of time at Ribfest last year.
“Parry Sound needs more events. We have a wonderful summertime season, and that’s great, but we need more draws to get people coming in from their cottages to Parry Sound. I think this is a wonderful opportunity,” said Saulnier.
Coun. Paul Borneman added that last year, there were no noise complaints from surrounding homes.
“Which is a pretty good feather in the cap of the people running this for the first time. Keep up the good work,” Borneman said.