YARMOUTH, N.S. – Organizers are counting the down the days to this year’s Yarmouth Mariners Ribfest, which will be held on the Yarmouth waterfront July 6, 7 and 8.
The same group of Ribbers that have come to Yarmouth the past two years are coming back, and the intention by those organizing the event locally is to have more of a carnival festival atmosphere.
A section of Water Street between Brown Street and the entrance to the Yarmouth ferry terminal will be closed to traffic during the event and a carnival area with large blowup rides will be set up. A parking area will be set up near the south gate for handicapped parking. There will be three tents set up in the Ribfest area, one of which will be a casino tent with games of chance. There will be more tables and chairs for seating, more vendors, possibly some outdoor pool tables, etc.
Different from past years, an admission fee will be charged for aspects of Ribfest this year, which is $5 per person and will include a bracelet. Children 12 and under are free. The admission fee includes all of the extras associated with Ribfest, included the entertainment, casino and pub tents and access to the Friday and Saturday evening Gold Rush shows. People who pay the admission fee will also have their names put into that day's daily $500 door prize and the draw for a grand prize at the end of the weekend.
The organizers have said there will be a system in place whereby people who want to purchase ribs as take-out will be accommodated. They won't have to pay the admission fee.
On the Mariners Ribfest Facebook page Thursday night a posting also said people who enter the carnival area only will not have to pay the $5 fee to enter that site. The rides are operated by a company outside of Ribfest who may charge tickets for the rides. Local organizers weren't sure of the company's intentions at the time of this posting.
Ribfest runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the Sunday.
The admission fee hasn't been getting a ringing endorsement by everyone on social media but Keith Condon, an organizer of the event, says the $5 fee is needed to help cover the expenses of the event, which run in excess of $60,000. Ribfest is a privately-run event and doesn’t receive any government funding to run it. There is some corporate assistance, but it’s not high. However, the other accommodations are being made because Ribfest also does not want to turn anyone away.
Expenses associated with the event includes, among other things, tent rentals, table and chair rentals, permits, the running and supply of electricity, providing a water supply, insurance, port-a-potties, security, propane, garbage removal, costs associated with entertainment, t-shirts for volunteers, plus this year’s carnival bouncy rides.
Beyond expenses the event is also a fundraiser. Hosted and run by the Yarmouth Mariners Jr. A hockey club, the event is not aimed to turn a profit but rather divide the money raised after expenses to the hockey team and other groups or charities that help out during Ribfest by providing volunteer manpower for such things as garbage sorting, clean-up, bussing tables, security, selling drinks, etc. Examples of some of the groups helping out this year that will receive donations from Ribfest include Yarmouth Life Skills, 4-H and Yarmouth County Minor Hockey.
“The intention is to spread money around to groups and charities in the town who help out by volunteering at the event,” Condon says.
The ribbers returning this year are Bibb’s BBQ, Billy Bones BBQ, Camp 31, Crabby’s BBQ Shark and Texas Rangers.
In the first year Ribfest was held here an estimated 20,000 people attended and last year it was around 24,000.
The Yarmouth event does not make money from the rib sales – that money all stays with the ribbers. The local event makes money from the rental fee charged to the ribbers, along with the sale of beer, water and pop, which again, organizers say, isn’t enough to cover expenses and allow the event to be a fundraiser.
Organizers have worked to make the event into more than just a food event, Condon says, with the addition of the carnival theme. There is also have a packed line-up of entertainment, which includes Elizabeth Wright, 2 Wheel Drive, Gerard LeBlanc, Dark Blond, Triple Trouble and Too Many Fingers. Performance times will be listed on the Mariners Ribfest Facebook page.
Gold Rush will also perform on the Friday and Saturday nights at 9 p.m.
“We want to keep the event here, keep it alive and keep it interesting,” Condon says.
Not all Ribfests charge admission, but local organizers say ones that see a high attendance figure are able to make more money during the weekend to cover costs.
The recent Ribfest in Fredericton charged a $2 admission. Money raised went towards a donation of approximately $17,000 for the New Brunswick Chapter of the Children’s Wish Foundation.