YORKTON – The Health Foundation's annual music and food festival, Rhythm and Ribs, which normally takes place in the summer has been cancelled.
"The reasoning is we couldn't get the vendors to come during the summer," said Ross Fisher, Executive Director for the Health Foundation in an interview with Yorkton This Week.
"They wanted to come early spring or later September and the weather is just too iffy for us to do that," said Fisher, adding, "we've passed on this year and hopefully we'll get back to holding the event again in 2024."
Fisher said the news from the vendors was disappointing.
"I think it's a good event for the community — a lot of people come — it's fun, it's a family event – so it's too bad that we're not going to go ahead. It's one of these events that's difficult to hold when you might have poorer weather because there's a lot of work and expense that goes into setting up the event, so you need to be reasonably sure you're going to be able to hold it at a time of the year when you'll have a good attendance."
"We hope that we'll go again in 2024 – we hope that we'll be able to do it again in July which is when we held it the first few years," said Fisher.
"I think part of the issue for us is that...prior to COVID they all ran a number of trucks and they're sort of starting to build those up again because they all have a number of rigs and we are a secondary market for them," said Fisher, adding, "if they have more trucks and they have more staff then they are able to come here during the summer, but if they have a limited number of trucks and staff they put them into the higher volume markets."
"We're hopeful that they'll be staffed up again and able to come again in 2024 – that's sort of the conversation that we've had with them," said Fisher, "time will tell – everybody is having trouble getting staff these days."
Fisher said there is no plan to hold a replacement event for the popular festival.
"I think this year we're going to pass on having a big summer event like that," said Fisher, adding, "they take a long time to set up – we'll go with the events we normally have which are a golf tournament and a run...those will keep us busy for the summer."
"We aren't alone – Saskatoon normally also has an event with barbecue rib vendors and they are not going ahead this year either," said Fisher.
Though the event is cancelled, Fisher said that fundraising continues.
"We've been getting in some donations and we — over the next while — will probably build into our radiothon which is coming up in April," said Fisher.
"Some of what we're raising money for will mean new services for the area. We plan on buying an Echocardiogram machine — we have staff that are able to run it now — currently people have to go to Saskatoon and Regina in order to get an echo which is kind of a basic service for a regional hospital."
"As we have a slightly older population it's sort of an in-demand service so we're happy to be moving forward with putting that in place. I think people see the value of it, we plan on expanding some of the services that we have for children in the hospital – it will be a busy year for us."
"We raise money each year to try and put new services or expanded services in place in the hospital – we're not always successful in putting new services in place but the community has been very supportive of good projects or equipment that they see that will make sense and will enhance the services that we have locally," said Fisher.
"We expect that they'll be pleased to see some of what we're raising money for this year and we expect and hope that [the community] will continue to support us."