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By Mike Baker
It has been a decade of excellence for the Rotary Club of Orangeville, and they're asking for the community to help them celebrate it in style at next weekend's 10th annual Rotary Ribfest.
Launched back in 2010, Rotary Ribfest is the local club's single largest annual fundraiser. Over the past 10 years, the event has raked in more than $500,000 – money that has been invested right back into the community.
“That's why we do this. That's the thing, I think, that we're most proud of,” said Michael Wright, co-chair of this special milestone event. “Every single dollar we raise through Ribfest stays right in our community, helping to pay for important projects. We love being able to support our community.”
In recent years, proceeds raised through the Orangeville Rotary Ribfest have gone towards constructing the splashpad at Fendley Park, building a new natural playground at Island Lake Conservation Area, purchasing a gazebo for Headwaters Health Care Centre, supporting the west quadrant of the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle's medicine wheel garden at Bravery Park, carrying out a complete renovation of the kitchen at the Orangeville Food Bank and, as has been the case for several years, supporting the GrandPals program, which runs at several elementary schools in the community.
After combining to raise more than $250,000 over the past three years, Mr. Wright says he's hoping to bring in another substantial amount this time around. The club's official goal is to break records and raise $100,000 through this year's Ribfest.
Once again taking over the soccer fields beside the Alder Street Recreation Centre, Ribfest will run on July 19, 20 and 21, with all three days jam packed with family-friendly fun and activities. Such was the success of last year's event, where more than 20,000 rib meals were sold over just three days, organizers have invited the same six ribbers back in 2019.
A favourite last year, Camp 31 will defend its Judges' Choice Best Ribs award, while Billy Bones BBQ will hope to repeat as winner of the coveted People's Choice Award. Silver Bullet BBQ, recognized last year for bringing the Best Sauce to town, is also returning, while spots have also been reserved for The Hogfather BBQ, Brickyard BBQ and Gator BBQ.
And if the ribs aren't enough to drag you out of the comfort of your home, the 10th annual Orangeville Rotary Ribfest also boasts back-to-back-to-back nights of quality musical entertainment.
Dufferin County Line will headline Country Night on Friday, playing a two-hour set from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. They will be supported by fellow country artists Tattoos ‘N Whiskey (6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) and The Firecats (5 p.m. to 6 p.m.).
Saturday will be a Rockin' Rollin' affair, with four acts scheduled throughout the day. Stevens Garage will kick things off with a two-hour performance from noon to 2 p.m., with Little White Lies running from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Larry Kurtz will take the stage at 4:30 p.m., playing until 6:30 p.m. before The Campfire Poets take their regular spot as the headline act, playing three hours from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Listed as Family Day, Sunday will see three acts take the stage. South Pawz will play from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., Last Stand from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Five Two Eight from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Organizers have also scheduled a DJ to be on hand, playing music on all three days.
Always a crowd favourite, the classic car show returns on Saturday, running from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a whole new Kidsfest taking place on Sunday.
“Kidsfest is a really neat idea we had to make the event even more family-friendly,” Mr. Wright said. “It will be a closed off area where kids and families can go. There will be lots of entertainment – we'll have a clown, singers, a tai chi demo, then we'll have activities surrounding our main tent. There will be face painting, a photo booth, pottery painting and other arts and crafts. It will be a neat addition.”
But wait, kids, there's even more.
“With this being a big anniversary, we went back to our midway operator and managed to secure all new rides this year, so that's exciting,” Mr. Wright said. “Then, on Sunday, we've arranged with our operator to let us offer all rides for $2 per ride. That will make things simpler, easier and cheaper for families.
To commemorate 10 years of Ribfest in the community, the Rotary Club has launched a few new initiatives. They held a community naming competition for event mascots Boy Hog and Girl Hog. As of today, Boy Hog will be known as Harv-ee, while Girl Hog will be known as Sue E. Mr. Wright noted the club received more than 200 submissions from the community.
Also new is a limited 50/50 draw, with only 2,000 tickets available. At a cost of $10 per ticket, Mr. Wright says he hopes to be able to cut a cheque for $10,000 for one lucky winner, while adding another $10,000 to the community fundraising pot.
With Ribfest now a little over a week away, Mr. Wright is keen to spark excitement throughout the community.
“For me, Ribfest is the highlight of the summer. I've only been involved with Rotary for five years, but long before that this was the thing that my family looked forward to all summer. It's always a huge amount of fun,” Mr. Wright said. “Being that it's the 10th anniversary, that just makes things even more exciting. People need to come out and join us for what is a fantastic summer event.”
He added, “I'd love to see a record crown. Last year we had more than 20,000 people come out and celebrate. I'd love to be able to say a record amount of people helped us celebrate our 10th anniversary in style.”
For more information on the Orangeville Rotary Ribfest, visit www.orangevilleribfest.com.
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