After a two-year hiatus the return of a RibFest event in North Bay was a complete success for Steve Bitonti and his team.
“I think it very well. Mother nature was the wild card and she obviously listened to our prayers to cooperate,” says Bitonti.
There was hardly a cloud in the sky over the four-day event which started on Thursday and ran through to the Sunday night fireworks finale.
“The crowds came out for an event that was a mix of old and new,” says Bitonti.
“We were excited to see people come to the gate and even more excited to see smiles on people's faces, especially the kids, the kids programming was amazing all weekend. The evening acts were outstanding and of course the ribbers did a great job, and the helicopter rides were praised all weekend long.”
Bitonti says encompassing an all-inclusive weekend of food, entertainment and activities was something people looked at as having real value.
“The entertainment was just as important as the ribs and both had its rewards. People packed the place for the night time entertainment, and people also packed the place to come eat ribs.”
Louise Lowe is a member of the Festival Committee and she says there was so much geared towards kids at the event over the weekend as well.
“Parents were lining up at 11 a.m. to come in. We had the reptile guys, we had inflatables, face painting and Dan the Music Man was on stage twice on Saturday with the bubble machine and kids were up on-stage dancing, it was just fantastic,” she says.
Bitonti estimated more than 5,000 people turned out through Saturday. He says changing the venue to the waterfront was something that people enjoyed.
“I think the whole thing is just a reflective spin off of the waterfront. This area didn’t get as much attention as it should have for the last two years because of the pandemic and it we really are provided with a nice footprint down here,” says Bitonti.
“What else can you ask for when the lake is your backdrop? All we did was add our own ideas to something that the city has put a lot of effort into creating and we’re happy to be a part of that for one weekend.”
Bitonti adds, “An event like this can’t exist without the sponsors. Everybody saw it as an opportunity to market to a mass audience.”
He says these opportunities don’t come up that often.
“Eight months out of the year the only real other opportunity to do something like this is with the North Bay Battalion at Memorial Gardens. This gave the sponsor an opportunity to do something in the summer and a number of community partners came together to make that happen.”
Lowe is also a Board Member with the North Bay Food Bank, who will receive proceeds from the event. She says these kinds of partnerships are important to incorporate in local events.
“Any time you have an event in North Bay, I think it's important to include a local charity to give back to. Everybody in the community always appreciates having that opportunity and this made it an all-in-one place where people could come donate,” she says.
“The donations were great throughout the weekend; both the monetary donations and people were coming up to the fence right until wristband sales ended at 7 p.m. with food donations and to thank us for the live music.”