Scott McMillan and fellow volunteers with the Esquimalt Firefighters Charitable Foundation hope to resume their fundraising through the Esquimalt Ribfest, scheduled for Sept. 10 to 12 in Bullen Park. (Black Press Media file photo)

Esquimalt Ribfest organizers licking their lips for September festival

Event chair cautiously optimistic popular outdoor event will happen Sept. 10 to 12

Optimistic about the future but planning for any stumbling blocks, organizers of the Esquimalt Ribfest are putting their best foot forward hoping the event happens for 2021.

Ribfest chair Tom Woods said planning is underway to host the public food, beverage and music festival and fundraiser in Bullen Park on Sept. 10 to 12, but various optional plans are part of that process.

“We are planning for a ‘full steam ahead’ event with a few contingencies in place if the current health situation changes, but B.C. is doing OK right now and we think a complete return to normal is possible,” Woods said in a release.

He is cautiously optimistic that Ribfest will happen, if not to the full extent of past years, then in a scaled-down version as regulations allow. Current rules for outdoor organized seated gatherings allow for 5,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is greater but the B.C. government is scheduled to re-evaluate restrictions after Labour Day.

ALSO READ: Most new B.C. COVID-19 cases are now among unvaccinated people

So far, organizers have booked six ribber teams and 21 musical acts, with local brewers ready to go to be a part of the event, Woods said.

“We are hoping to really build on the $800,000 we have donated to local, mainly children’s charities over our eight years,” he said, noting that while entry into the park is free, donations are accepted onsite for the Esquimalt Firefighters Charitable Foundation.

New elements planned for 2021 include the Blue Buffalo Saloon, a western-themed corporate tent that is available for booking by companies, grad reunions or other groups, with room for up to 100 guests.

Woods stressed the event will see provincial health guidelines followed, with social distancing, hand washing and masks for unvaccinated people recommended, despite the fact Bullen is a large outdoor venue.

“The recent slight uptick (in positive COVID-19 test numbers) is worrisome, but if we can stay on a positive trajectory, we should be cooking come September,” he said.

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