Pickering barbecue lovers will have to wait until next year for the popular Pickering Ribfest to return to Esplanade Park.
The festival, hosted by the Rotary Club of Pickering, has been paused since 2019 due to COVID-19.
“Even though the pandemic’s immediate impact is fading, after giving much thought we have decided to pause it for this year too,” the club’s president, Sean Baillie, said in a letter to patrons and partners.
He had thanked them for their interest in the event after receiving numerous inquires regarding the status of Ribfest.
“Cancelling this year’s Ribfest was a tough decision,” Baillie said in an interview.
He said the club ultimately did not want to pose a risk of a larger COVID-19 outbreak.
“I don’t think we were ready as yet,” he said. “I know everybody is opening up and so on and some folks are taking those risks but our club is a little more reserved in that aspect.”
He chose to write the letter and post the news on social media when inquiries were coming in.
“We’re confident that patrons, partners, sponsors won’t be disappointed with what we come with next year,” he said. “It’s going to be bigger. It’s going to be the premier festival that you’re used to.”
In the meantime, he said the Rotary club is excited to partner with the City of Pickering to present the first Cultural Fusion Festival from Aug. 19 to Aug. 21 at Esplanade Park, One The Esplanade in Pickering.
The food festival will feature a spread of international foods from the diverse community that represents Pickering residents, as well as various activities, rides, and cultural entertainment by local artists.
Anyone looking to participate can email [email protected] or visit pickering.ca.
Past Ribfest events have pulled in a lot of money for the Pickering Rotary club, allowing it to support local organizations and groups. But the club has continued to collect funds through other means and will still make check presentations later in June. Baillie encourages rib lovers to support other local Ribfest events, since the funds raised go back to the community.
The Ajax Rotary Ribfest is happening this weekend, June 3 to June 5 at Ajax Downs Casino.