Event organizer

Ribfest draws 6,000-10,000 people to waterfront, organizer says

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Between 6,000 and 10,000 people from across the province, including the United States, walked through the doors this weekend for the Harvest King Ribfest, according to organizers.

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Steve Bitonti told The Nugget on Sunday afternoon some of the numbers after the four-day event, although final tallies were not tabulated.

He said that in addition to the thousands of visitors, there were a “tonne” of hotel rooms booked.

“At one hotel, there were 60 to 70 hotel rooms booked as part of the ribfest, and we had people from South Carolina, Sudbury, Timmins,” Bitonti said.

The festival organizer said it considers the event a success, but final figures won’t be known for a few days.

“We pushed hard to do what we set out to do and proved that in tough times you can still have fun,” Bitonti said.

When asked if he would return next year, he said the final numbers, including the donation to the North Bay Food Bank, will be the deciding factor.

Bitonti said that if he started hosting a second annual ribfest, there would be some changes.

He said he would like the children’s area and the live entertainment area to be expanded.

Rick Nelson and his wife decided to travel from Toronto to North Bay to experience the festival.

“We were very impressed,” said the father of Ty Nelson, the North Bay Battalion defenseman who was recently drafted from the Seattle Kraken.

“By far the best ribfest I have ever attended. The food was phenomenal, the service was fantastic and the entertainment was amazing. I drove from Toronto for this event. Want to see lineups, try attending a Toronto Ribfest. Waiting in lines for any ribfest is so common, it’s no secret.

Nelson said the hosts for this event did an amazing job.

“The location being right on Lake Nipissing was absolutely stunning. It was an incredible experience. I will definitely come back. North Bay be proud. Good job.”

Debbie Marson, executive director of the North Bay Food Bank, said there were a lot of happy people over the weekend.

But in the same breath, she responded to criticism from some that you had to pay an entrance fee to enter the festival site.

“This event costs money to organize, so it costs money to participate. And this festival has benefited the food bank of which we are very happy to be a part.”

Marson said the food bank receives no government funding and relies strictly on community donations to keep its doors open.

She said there have been tough times and “it’s getting a bit risky with the cost of everything (rising), especially food, which also affects us and our purchasing power” .

“Last week we had four new people within four hours, that’s pretty high. We’re also seeing people coming back who haven’t needed us in a while,” Marson said.

“When the cost of food increases for the consumer, we

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see the increase. Right now, we’re doing our best to get by. »