The ink hadn’t even dried up on our lift-off sponsorship contract when the news of the festival’s cancellation reached our desk Tuesday morning.
It was sad to hear. Cornwall was losing their signature event, at least for this year. Shortly after the announcement, gossip started buzzing. “Why is this happening? Where did the money go? And what will happen to the money Lift-Off received from the city this year? Is Ribfest next? Speaking of Ribfest, why don’t they use Local People? Nobody in Cornwall benefits from Ribfest! Lift-Off is dead, now let’s make sure we kill that other festival too!”
I’m exaggerating a little, but in good Cornwall fashion, the negativity kept coming. I can’t speak about Lift-Off and how they ran their ship, but here is what I know about Ribfest.
First and foremost, it’s AWESOME! Summer, BBQ, Music, Carnival Rides, FREE ADMISSION… There is nothing not to like! You think the ribs are substandard and overpriced? Don’t eat them! You don’t want to line an outsider’s pockets? Grab a burger elsewhere and bring it to the park! You can still enjoy the shows–consisting of mainly local bands–for free, and sip on a a cold brew in the beer garden at a reasonable price.
Critics complain that Ribfest is not local. True, Ribfest does bring in a traveling show that comes from both Canadian and US cities, but please don’t make it sound like it is actually closed to local vendors. A visit to the website will quickly show you the event is open to anybody. Ribbers, dry vendors, food vendors, from Cornwall or anywhere else, anybody can pitch their tent and profit from the event. No discrimination here.
And the money that is being made by Ribfest does not leave town as soon as Ribfest leaves. That money goes a long way. It goes to local charities and individuals who need it. No discrimination there either.
Ribfest is Cornwall Seaway Lions’ biggest fundraising event of the year and every penny made by the festival is reinjected directly in the community. A fine example of this is the recent $30,000 given to the Hospital Foundation to help open their cancer treatment facility. Ribfest 2014 paid for that. It also allowed the Lions to make smaller donations to Mike and Tia Scott, Encore Senior services, OSPCA, Mike Proulx’s volleyball tournament for CHEO, Poapst Snowsuit Fund and also provided eye exam clinics to two local elementary schools this year. I’d say Cornwall benefits plenty.
There will always be people who always complain. Lift-off charges an entrance fee in order to pay for bigger bands, people are not happy. Ribfest doesn’t charge an entry fee but has no big name headliner, they’re still not happy. If we want our events to survive, we have to not only get behind them and support them by attending them, but we also have to stop the negative dialogue surrounding them. THAT’s what truly kills the morale of volunteer boards who generously give of themselves to create larger-than-life summer activities that benefits everyone, young and old. Next time you hear a negative comment, why not fight it with a positive?
For more information about Ribfest, visit http://www.cornwallseawaylionsclub.ca
Disclosure: Julia is a Lion and involved in Ribfest 2015.