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Prepare to pull up in your car for next year’s Port Moody Ribfest

Organizers wondering options if COVID-19 pandemic continues into next summer.
Port Moody's popular Ribfest could become a drive-thru event next summer if the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Port Moody’s Ribfest could become a drive-thru event.

That’s an option being considered by organizers if the public health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic extends into next summer.

Al Stjernegaard, of Port Moody Rotary that’s put on the popular celebration of grilled and smoked meat since 2015, said given the current trajectory of rising cases of the respiratory contagion and the ongoing absence of a vaccine, there’s “a low probability” of a full-on festival next July 16-18.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said of the event. “I don’t think in COVID anybody has a Plan A anymore.”

Stjernegaard said Ribfest’s organizing committee is in the early stages of putting together plans for a drive-thru version of the feast that was cancelled last July because of the pandemic. The event is a major fundraiser for Rotary’s activities and community supports.

Still, Stjernegaard said, the organization was able to direct a COVID grant to purchase tablets for an outreach program operated by Share Family and Community Services to help local families get on the internet, as well as hosted an online auction to support local business struggling because of the economic fallout caused by the crisis.

Rotary is also continuing its Christmas programs in conjunction with Soroptomists to supply 50 gift bags to families in need as well as helping out senior residents at Eagle Ridge Manor. That’s in addition to its ongoing assistance for international literacy and health projects in Ecuador, Belize and Kenya.

Stjernegaard said for Ribfest to go forward in a revised format, it needs assurance from Port Moody council the city’s funding earmarked for this year’s cancelled festival can be put toward future years.

“This will allow us to do forward planning,” he said, adding a drive-thru event in which people are able to pass by the various ribber kiosks and then enjoy their racks of ribs and sauce-slathered sandwiches safely elsewhere will likely have fewer costs than a full festival.

In Dec., 2019, the city renewed a three-year agreement to support the three-day festival with an annual grant of $35,000 in cash and services in kind.

Council’s finance committee will consider Rotary’s request at a future meeting.