Vernon Rib Fest has officially been cancelled.
The event, first held in Vernon in 2019, was sidelined by COVID concerns the past two years. And now, attempts to resurrect it July 8-10 2022 have encountered insurmountable financial challenges.
Elaine Gallacher, with the Vernon Rib Fest Society, says costs have increased exponentially, putting the event out of reach.
“There was a number of different factors,” Gallacher said Tuesday, adding Rib Fest committee members met Monday “and went over every aspect of it,” but it just wasn’t possible to continue.
Earlier this month, Gallacher said the society needed to make up a $30,000 shortfall. Vernon Tourism promised $3,000 to the event, and the city of Vernon reduced its fee to rent the curling rink by $5,000.
An anonymous donor also offered help, but it was still not enough.
Gallacher says the society anticipated increased costs over previous events and budgeted for them, but the increases were greater than expected.
“The costs increased so much it was out of our reach,” she said. “For example, security for the same sized event was at minimum doubled. Security in 2019 was around $11,000.”
Gallacher said to do a small expansion would have pushed security costs to more than $30,000.
Grants from the city and the regional district also did not materialize.
“Almost all costs had gone up a lot higher than what we had anticipated,” she said. “It was more than we could manage. It was a really hard decision and not one anyone wanted to make.
“We just hate what this has done not only for the ribbers, but also for our local economy and for the vendors and musicians and entertainers and everyone who made a commitment to support the event.”
So is this the end of Rib Fest in Vernon or will efforts be made to bring the event back?
“We haven’t had that conversation,” Gallacher told Castanet.
In an effort to salvage at least a portion of the event, Gallacher said ribbers were given contact information for organizers of the Sun Valley Cruise In, which is happening the same weekend.
Between wages, food stuff and hotel rentals, the ribbers have more than $100,000 invested in the event.