By Perry Lefko
The annual Mississauga Rotary Ribfest, a staple of the summer season, is moving from Celebration Square to Port Credit Memorial Park.
The move was formally announced on March 7 in a media release, but the idea of relocating the Ribfest had been in discussion for some time because the event had outgrown the Celebration Square footprint. Organized by the Rotary Club of Mississauga and the Rotary Club of Mississauga West and sponsored by Amacon, the event will take place on its traditional date July 12-15.
“One of the wonderful things about Celebration Square is it’s been developing with a number of pieces of public art, probably the most obvious and largest change over the last few years would be the installation of The Book (by Ilan Sandler in 2016),” said Mississauga Ribfest co-ordinator Natalie Hart. “If you look at the kind of space that installation takes up, that surely shrinks your footprint. Once you put a giant book in there, you can’t put a food vendor in the space anymore. There’s certain weight restrictions on the Square that aren’t the same in other areas where you can put trailers or food trucks.
“It’s not like you wake up one morning and realize it doesn’t fit but, like many events that grow or locations that change over time, you realize that slowly but surely it’s a little hard to stretch your elbows. The popularity of the event continued to grow in terms of attendance. Over 14 years, Mississauga has turned into a much larger city than when Ribfest started.”
Port Credit Memorial Park, which is on the north side of Lakeshore Road East across from the harbour, has the size to accommodate the event and access to public transportation. As part of the move, there will be shuttle buses running, which few festivals offer, from the central core twice an hour to try and encourage people to get there from a different space than Celebration Square. Hart also notes because Ribfest is a green event with onsite composting recycling there is a need for access to power and water. The vendors run off of electrical power instead of diesel generators.
“We’re a very green- and clean-focused event,” Hart added. “It was critical for us that the new location has the infrastructure available to it to allow us to continue that.”
Because Memorial Park is almost 40 percent larger than Celebration Square, there will be room for more vendors. Once again there will be 13 ribbers.
“It will be an extended and larger event, but our ribbers will be the same lineup we enjoyed last year,” Hart said. “They’ve all committed to be a part of the event at any location.”
The event will charge a $2 admission per day or $5 a family. The last two years, the event ran a pilot program in which patrons had the option of paying that admission price.
Photo: Courtesy of Mississauga Ribfest