Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Ribfest no more???

An article was sent to me by someone (it didn't say from who) in the London Free Press, saying that the London Ribfest may be no more. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!


Boys' and Girls' Club kisses annual rib-fest goodbye
Tues, December 16, 2008


The pink pig is dead.

The Boys' and Girls' Club of London has ended its involvement in the London Rib-Fest because it became too much effort for too little benefit.

"When we added it all up, it was really hard for us to throw the staff and volunteers into it," Don Donner, executive director of the club, which has operated the event for 20 years, said yesterday.

Staging the event this year required 7,000 hours by 600 volunteers and staff -- for a gain to the club of $150,000.

Among the three largest rib festivals in North America, it generated a total of $900,000 this year and was named by WestJet as the best-run festival of Southwestern Ontario.

But this fall, club directors hired a consultant to help determine if the event had reached its zenith.

The conclusion?

Sponsorship is slipping; health-and-safety standards for food, alcohol and the environment are becoming tougher; prices are rising while attendance is shrinking; rib-cookers are demanding more profit; and volunteers are getting tougher to find.

The club's profit was expected to drop by $70,000 if the event were held in 2009. "It was a fun ride and we should go out on a high note," says the report by consultant Glenn Howlett.

When the club took over the event in 1988, the rib-fest was three years old and one of only a few festivals in the city.

Now, there are dozens of summer events and destinations competing for the same money, and about 30 rib festivals in Ontario alone.

"The novelty is sort of waning," Donner said.

With the economy also waning -- several sponsors either dropped out or reduced their funding levels in 2008 -- the board agreed to wrap its involvement, effective immediately.

Donner said he hopes the early notification will allow the city, which owns rights to the event, enough time to put to tender the rib-fest's operations.

The Boys' and Girls' Club is willing to work with a new operator to ease any transition. London Mayor Anne-Marie DeCicco-Best, who'd just learned of the club's decision, said she doesn't know if the city will tender out the event.

Still, she said "it's unlikely" the city would set a precedent by taking over any festival's operations.

Donner estimates the economic impact of the festival at $4 million a year. Every year, the club featured pig-themed items -- including a pink-pig van motoring around the city -- to promote the event.

Now, the van and the pink ribbons are retired.

The club's volunteers and staff will be mobilized for activities more central to its business of helping children, youth, seniors and families, Donner said.

The demand for their services continues to grow.

Rib-fest proceeds of about $2 million have helped the club pay for its new aquaplex, set up a legacy fund and added a Horizons program to help teens attend college and university.

"In this economy, anyone in the special- events business is going to find it hard to do business," Donner said.

In recent years, London's air show and balloon festival have also closed down.


The Boys and Girls Club Website doesn't have any info on this, but the video in the article gives some good insight. I don't blame the BGC for their concerns, but its sad that this has happened. Hopefully, someone can step up and save this event. Someone please. Please!


Ricky said...

I sent that link to you. It didn't give me the option to add my name. I can understand the BGC position, but the city hasn't been making things easier on festivals in general and as you mentioned, it's just another in a long line of annual festivals that have shut down in recent years.
We'll just have to explore other options if it isn't revived like having our own ribfest at home or attending another ribfest in the area....

Lord of the Wing said...

Thanks for the article, I had a hunch it was you.

And as for other options, I like the idea of us having our own ribfest. We each season/sauce our own ribs and submit them to the group. Or there are 30 other ribfests in Ontario, we could do that too.