Local foodies missed it last year, but the sizzling smells of ribs on the grill will be wafting through Machell Park again this August as the Town re-launches Ribfest.
Four rib teams will be returning to Ribfest between Friday, August 27 to Sunday, August 29, just in time to mark the perennial favourite’s 15th anniversary.
Ribfest 2021 will feature live entertainment, with Friday night’s opening act set to be the U2 tribute band Desire, a beer garden, family-friendly activities, as well as roasted yam, roasted corn on the cob, and other tasty treats.
The Town received the go-ahead for the event from York Region Public Health last week, leaving a narrower window of time to get everything done, but with 14 years experience under their belts, they are hitting the ground running.
“The scale of Ribfest will be slightly smaller in the sense that attendance will be at three-quarters of what the capacity usually is and there will be obviously COVID safety measures implemented throughout each element of the event,” says Shelley Ware, Special Events Coordinator for the Town of Aurora. “Usually we have five rib teams, this year it will be four, and the configuration will be slightly different because physical distancing is so important. Our attitude [when we got word] was, let’s make it happen.”
Joining Desire will be a number of favourite tribute bands which will be announced closer to the date, but all planning is being done keeping in mind the weekend will be a big one for live entertainment in Aurora. In addition to Concerts in the Park on the preceding Wednesday, the night before Ribfest will feature a Movies in the Park event.
“I have often called this our Summer Party Trifecta and this is our ‘Welcome Back, Summer’ five-day stretch. This is the tastiest event of the year, the most anticipated tastiest event of the year, and we’re putting in all the effort to ensure the show goes on.”
But, as with everything else over the course of the pandemic, nothing can ever be truly set in stone and Ms. Ware is encouraging residents to visit aurora.ca/ribfest often for the most up-to-date lineup and measures that need to be followed.
“Whenever you put on an event, you have options and there is always a spectrum between the minimum standard and what is going above and beyond for safety standards,” says Ms. Ware. “I would really like the community to know that in Aurora, the participant experience is first and foremost and we take our COVID protocols extremely seriously. We don’t meet the minimum standards – we exceed them at every single step of the way and I think we have a good track record with this. When you look at Concerts in the Park, we space people eight feet and not six feet. We look at every element where we can enhance the safety of participants and their overall experience. We have formats and formulas that work in the past which enables us to concentrate on how to adapt those to make this as safe of an experience as possible for all those who do come out.
“As with everything related to COVID, it is an ever-changing circumstance.”
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran