The ribs are on the grill until 9 p.m. Sunday, the final day of the first Vernon Elks Lodge Ribfest at the Vernon Curling Club/Centennial Outdoor Rink. (Katherine Peters - Morning Star)

A hit to the ribs: funding shortfall for Vernon event

Ribfest needing support to pull off three-day festival

A planned Vernon event has taken a heavy punch to its ribs.

Vernon Ribfest slated for July 8-10 at the Vernon Curling Club and Centennial Outdoor Rink is in danger of being cancelled due to a funding shortfall.

“We need heroes,” said event spokesperson Elaine Gallacher on Wednesday, June 22. “We need $20,000, minimum, and we need it immediately. We do have some funding from the vendors and from sponsors.”

A hoped-for grant of $14,000 following an application to the Regional District of North Okanagan did not come through. Ribfest applied to the RDNO’s Community Grant Program for money from the Greater Vernon Arts, Culture and Youth Operating Grants.

The grant program is advertised annually in August, and applications are accepted up until the end of September. Ribfest and one other group were given approval for late application submissions.

“Applications are reviewed for eligibility based on policy guidelines, and evaluated using the grant approval process,” said Tannis Nelson, RDNO manager of community services, parks, recreation and culture. “Evaluated applications and funding recommendations are then brought forward for consideration by the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors.”

The grant evaluation process looks at three main areas of criteria: excellence and innovation; impact; and management. Applicants and projects must meet the policy criteria for eligibility, clearly demonstrate a financial need, and achieve a minimum evaluation score of 75 per cent in order to be considered for funding.

The Ribfest application received an evaluation score of 68 per cent on its application from RDNO staff. The recommendation to deny funding was forwarded to GVAC, then the board. Both agreed with the recommendation.

The event received $5,000 from RDNO for its inaugural Ribfest in 2019. The group reapplied for $5,000 in 2020, and was awarded the grant, but the event never went off due to COVID. In 2021, RDNO asked for the money back, which Gallacher says they returned.

The inaugural event was well attended with a crowd of 8,000 attending over three days and broke even, financially.

“When we found out we were not getting the $14,000, that’s too crippling,” said Gallacher. “We can’t risk that much revenue.”

Gallacher said the event’s rental costs and security costs have doubled since the first event in 2019, and other costs have also increased.

Plans for Ribfest 2022 include a music lineup, kids’ zone, entertainers, ribbers and other vendors.

One way to help is to visit the event’s website, vernonribfest.com, and make a table reservation over the three days. A table of eight is $50. For larger groups, it’s an extra $5 per person.

More sponsors are being sought to try and make up the funding shortfall. Sponsors can click on the website for details.

For more information on Vernon Ribfest, call the message phone at 250-558-4192 or email info@ribfest.com.

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Final day for Vernon Elks Lodge Ribfest

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