Ribfest

Economic Development Advisory Committee wants council to revisit Ribfest sign issue

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s economic development advisory committee plans to appear before council to ask that the issue of the Rotary Ribfest sign issue be revisited.

The Ribfest committee, which operates under the umbrella of the Rotary Club of Amherstburg, asked for an extension from 14 days to 28 days prior to their July 7-9 event to better promote the festival but were refused at the March 22 meeting. A motion from Councillor Leo Meloche that night failed to get a seconder.

Carl Gibb, Ribfest committee chair, appeared before the economic development committee and noted the signs “are very important to us” and used the example of the Rotary Club’s recent pasta dinner to show how important signs are to them.

Without a roadside sign, Gibb told the committee that attendance dropped.

Gibb said they would put up ten larger signs around the town in the past and took them down immediately after the event. The club currently cannot have the smaller push-in lawn signs erected on homeowners’ properties as well.

“These are not ugly signs. They are not bristol board with magic marker,” said Gibb. “We spent a lot of money on these signs.”

It was “amazing” to Gibb that the push-in lawn signs are not allowed on residential property. He added they could put up signs in other communities, but not Amherstburg until 14 days before the event.

“It’s frustrating. I don’t know what we are going to do,” said Gibb. “If attendance is down, we may go to another municipality.”

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Gibb said that two weeks is “not enough” for people to be aware of an upcoming event. He said they are not trying to threaten council, but noted the committee puts a lot of time and effort planning the festival.

“If the numbers aren’t there, you can’t sustain it. That’s a fair statement and not a threat,” replied Meloche.

Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli said that section of the bylaw has been in place since 2006. She noted the bylaw department is “complaint driven” and there were concerns about an abundance of signage last year with Communities in Bloom judges coming.

The town is participating in Communities in Bloom again this year. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale pointed out that Communities in Bloom and Ribfest did not occur at the same time last year.

Rubli said there were also concerns about signs for multiple events being up simultaneously.

“Because the town is blessed with so many events, there could be a lot of signs up at one time essentially promoting six different events as timelines overlap,” she said.

Meloche believed such restrictions like the town has in place limits freedom of expression and believed it should be pointed out that the town risks losing Ribfest.

Carolyn Davies, president of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and that organization’s appointee to the committee, wondered if distance between signs could resolve the issue.

“Maybe it’s a matter of limiting the number of signs,” she said.

Economic Development Advisory Committee chair Bob Rozankovic said the issue at hand was the 14-day extension.

“I support the bylaw the way it is. I support its intent,” said Rozankovic, but said the spirit of the bylaw must also be considered.

“This bylaw does create opportunities for exemptions,” said Rozankovic.

Rozankovic believed any court in the land would uphold an exemption, particularly for a worthy cause.

Davies said there was little to do in Amherstburg when she arrived 20 years ago and “by 2006, we still didn’t have very much.” Things have changed since 2006 and she believed the bylaw needs more updating, particularly since the tourism component to Amherstburg has evolved.

“I think this bylaw is archaic,” said Davies. “It needs to be redeveloped. We’re dealing with a different era than when it was written in 2006.”

The committee, led by Rozankovic, plan to appear before town council April 24 regarding extending the period for Ribfest signs to 28 days.

The Ribfest is scheduled for July 7-9 at Centennial Park.

Rotary Club honours former member during Easter Seals fundraiser

 

By Adam D’Andrea

 

The Rotary Club of Amherstburg raised approximately $2,000 on April 5 during their annual Easter Seals fundraising dinner.

The dinner was held at the Knights of Columbus Hall and attended by roughly 200 guests. While the Rotary Club has been holding the fundraiser for many years, the event was recently renamed the Martin Breshamer Memorial Pasta Dinner.

“Our former secretary who passed away, his name was Martin Breshamer; we lost him at the beginning of last year. Easter Seals was very near and dear to Martin’s heart. He did the telethons, the walkathons, all for Easter Seals,” said Rotary Club of Amherstburg president Laura George. “This is something that we can do to honour his service, not only to the Easter Seals but definitely to the Rotary Club too.”

Rotary Club of Amherstburg members take a break for a photo during the Martin Breshamer Memorial Pasta Dinner last Wednesday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall. The dinner raised approximately $2,000 for Easter Seals. (RTT Photo by Adam D'Andrea)

Rotary Club of Amherstburg members take a break for a photo during the Martin Breshamer Memorial Pasta Dinner last Wednesday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall. The dinner raised approximately $2,000 for Easter Seals. (RTT Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

All proceeds from the dinner will be going toward the Easter Seals’ efforts to provide programs and services to children with physical disabilities. These include a summer camp, post-secondary scholarships and financial assistance for wheelchairs, walkers, ramps and lifts.

“It’s always very successful. People really come out and support us,” said fundraising chair Carl Gibb.

George thanked the members of the Knights of Columbus for providing them with some much-needed added manpower to run the event and the Rotary members who went out into the community to get door prizes for the fundraiser.

“We couldn’t do a lot of what we do without our door prizes,” she said. “Local businesses are really great. We go knocking door-to-door a couple of times a year and we hardly ever get turned away.”

The Rotary Club of Amherstburg’s next major event will be their eighth annual Ribfest, which runs from July 7-9 this year.

No relief for Rotary Club under town’s sign bylaw

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of the Amherstburg Rotary Club are disappointed after town council did not grant them any relief from the sign bylaw.

Three members, all of whom are also on the Rotary Ribfest committee, appeared before council asking that they be allowed to have mobile signs and signs on residential and commercial properties for a 28-day period prior to their eighth annual Ribfest, which is scheduled for July 7-9 this year. Ribfest committee chair Carl Gibb, Rotary president Laura George-Jurilj and Tony Ross appeared at Monday night’s meeting.

Currently, they can only put out signs 14 days in advance of their events and based on the lack of seconder for a motion by Councillor Leo Meloche asking for the 28-day period, those restrictions will stay in place. They are not allowed portable signs, with event signs only allowed on commercial properties.

“The Ribfest Committee is totally opposed to these regulations. They are too restrictive and they pose a problem in getting people to come to our event,” said Gibb.

Gibb said the Ribfest has not presented any problems and has brought thousands of people to Amherstburg.

“These signs that we put up are professionally made by a local business,” said Gibb. “Fourteen days is not long enough to properly advertise an event. It is a known fact that you have to pass a road sign three times to know what it actually says.”

The Rotary Club has spent “considerable money” in acquiring the signs “and now we cannot use them.” He said until last year, they have put up signs four weeks prior to the event and removed them the day after.

“Two years ago, we had 15,000 people. Last year, we had just over 10,000. Is this a result of your restrictions on our advertising? Quite likely, some of it,” said Gibb. “It is ironic that we can put up any of our signs in Harrow, Kingsville, Leamington, Cottam, Essex, Lakeshore, LaSalle and even Windsor. How many phone calls, how many complaints we’ve had? Zero.”

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Gibb said some businesses told him they make more money in sales during the Ribfest weekend than any other summer weekend. Banners over Sandwich St. S. may not be as effective, Gibb added, as some may not drive past it.

“Why do you want to restrict residents from showing their support for our event,” he asked, “with no signs on residential property?”

Signs are also placed strategically in high traffic areas.

“You allow roofing, siding and renovation companies from out of town to advertise for weeks but we can’t do it once a year,” said Gibb. “I don’t understand your concerns.”

The committee works year-round on the event and Gibb also pointed out the investment the Rotary Club has made in Amherstburg including the Miracle League field. He said they are also planning on supplying carbon monoxide detectors to homes at little to no cost this spring to low income families

“We are presently contemplating another new project that the town desperately needs. An announcement could come shortly,” he added.

Meloche questioned only allowing two weeks for the Rotary Club to put out signs and believed they are restricting their cause. He believed it is not up to government to put such restrictions in place and the signs are “a cost effective way of advertising.”

Meloche even quoted Supreme Court of Canada cases in similar matters.

“As far as I’m concerned, we are, in effect, being restrictive,” said Meloche.

“I am totally opposed to this request,” said Councillor Diane Pouget, adding she did support the Rotary Club in general.

Pouget said they went through a sign bylaw updating process for two years, and said they would be going backwards if they started allowing amendments to it.

“I believe in keeping it the way it is,” said Pouget.

The Communities in Bloom judges that came to Amherstburg last year also commented on the “sign pollution” matter when they were here, she said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said it is “a very difficult area of the law” and that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an ever evolving area of the law.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said there were two years of discussion and public consultation on the sign bylaw and then suddenly after it passed, “all these concerns are coming up.” Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli said the bylaw passed last year dealt with off-site portable signs and the bylaw that was being enforced in the Rotary Club’s case has been on the books since 2006.

“We do help,” Councillor Rick Fryer told the Rotary members, noting money is spent to help festivals advertise. “We are trying to help festivals as much as we can.”

George-Jurilj said they “are very disappointed by council’s decision in not working with us. The fact that this law has been in place since 2006 and never enforced until 2016 goes to show it has not been a real cause for concern for many of the residents in Amherstburg.”

She added the committee spends thousands of dollars on advertising for Ribfest in Amherstburg each year.

“We pay for billboards from Windsor to Chatham, radio, TV and newspaper ads, and lawn signs that we place in all our neighbouring communities. To spend this amount of time, energy and money bringing people and venue into the town of Amherstburg is something we are happy to do. We love this town and its people,” she continued. “But when I am told I can’t put a sign on my own front lawn supporting an event and organization that has done so very much for this town, I must say its extremely frustrating to say the least.”

George-Jurilj added: “This situation coupled with a few other factors has really made us re-evaluate our event. This may be ‘a sign of the times’ for us and our future here in Amherstburg.”

 

Rotary Club says thanks to Ribfest volunteers, donates to House youth centre

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Rotary Club of Amherstburg gave thanks to those who helped during Ribfest, made a donation to a local non-profit group and also honoured one of their own.

All in one meeting.

The local Rotarians held their weekly meeting last Wednesday night at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 but that meeting was larger than normal as over 30 people attended with many having been volunteers at July’s Ribfest that was held in Centennial Park.

Rotary Club of Amherstburg past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja (left) presents a cheque for $950 to House Youth Centre activities co-ordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart last Wednesday. The proceeds came from can returns from Ribfest.

Rotary Club of Amherstburg past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja (left) presents a cheque for $950 to House Youth Centre activities co-ordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart last Wednesday. The proceeds came from can returns from Ribfest.

Past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja chaired the meeting as president Laura George-Jurilj was absent after having surgery. Mangoff-Lazanja said the event could not happen without all of the volunteers that turn out annually.

“It would not be the success that it is without all of your help,” she told the group assembled around the table.

Mangoff-Lazanja said the Ribfest is one of the largest weekend events in Amherstburg, something she is proud of. Carl Gibb, the Rotarian that heads the Ribfest committee, echoed Mangoff-Lazanja’s comments about the volunteers.

“You people are just amazing,” said Gibb. “We’d never pull it off without your help. “It is so nice to have people that are so loyal and help us out.”

Gibb said attendance was down 4,000 people “but we still made money. It’s a credit to all of you people and all of the work we did.”

The Rotary Club and its Ribfest committee thanked the volunteers that worked the event at the Rotary Club's Oct. 26 meeting. Back row (from left): Bob Pillon, Ann-Marie Favot, Cathy Thomas, Carl Gibb. Front row (from left): Tony Ross, Lena Mangoff-Lazanja, Dan Hunt and Gene Sliepenbeek. Absent are Barb Brookbanks and Rotary Club president Laura George-Jurilj.

The Rotary Club and its Ribfest committee thanked the volunteers that worked the event at the Rotary Club’s Oct. 26 meeting. Back row (from left): Bob Pillon, Ann-Marie Favot, Cathy Thomas, Carl Gibb. Front row (from left): Tony Ross, Lena Mangoff-Lazanja, Dan Hunt and Gene Sliepenbeek. Absent are Barb Brookbanks and Rotary Club president Laura George-Jurilj.

Mangoff-Lazanja read greetings from George-Jurilj, which stated: “I wish I could join you all in celebrating another successful year of Ribfest. Another year full of hard work, sacrifice, planning and dedication, not to mention time. The months, weeks and days leading up to the Ribfest and of course the weekend of the event you all gave so freely of your time – time away from friends, family and other commitments, time I know can be hard to find. I cannot begin to thank you for your time and efforts, without each one of you our event wouldn’t be the huge success it is.

“It’s amazing what can happen when people come together with a common vision and a common purpose. You have all shown the true definition of ‘Rotary at Work.’”

Gibb was also recognized, with Lazanja pointing out the work he does not only for the Ribfest but other Rotary events as well.

“There’s really no words. We really appreciate everything (Carl) does for the club,” said Mangoff-Lazanja. “Part of the reason this event has worked year after year after year is because of Carl.”

The Rotary Club presented the House youth centre with a cheque for $950 as House members helped at the Ribfest. The money came from the return of empty beer cans that were cashed in.

The club also paid tribute to Lazanja, who served as president for a total of four non-consecutive years. Gibb noted that “we’re a small club” and they appreciate Mangoff-Lazanja’s willingness to serve as president for as long as she did.

Mangoff-Lazanja was presented a metal lantern that was crafted by Hazen Price, who is also a tinsmith at the Park House Museum. The Rotary Club is a major funder of the Park House.

Rotary Club past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja admires a new lantern she received as a gift Oct. 26. It was crafted by Park House Museum tinsmith and fellow Rotarian Hazen Price.

Rotary Club past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja admires a new lantern she received as a gift Oct. 26. It was crafted by Park House Museum tinsmith and fellow Rotarian Hazen Price.

George-Jurilj also had a message for Mangoff-Lazanja, with that message read by Gibb: “I wouldn’t be where I am today in my Rotary life if not for Lena. One because she nominated me for president, and two because she has given me her unwavering support. She has set a great example for not only the role as president, but as a true Rotarian. Her dedication, perseverance, knowledge and passion through her terms as president are something I truly admire. She has left me with some very big shoes to fill in my time as your president. But I know with her as one of my greatest cheerleaders I will be able to serve you all very well. Thank you Lena for all your service in Rotary. You have many wonderful accomplishment you should be very proud of.”

Mangoff-Lazanja praised the work of the group as a whole, stating nothing could be accomplished without the work of everyone.

“You guys made it easy for me,” she told her fellow Rotarians.

Mangoff-Lazanja added she served as president as long as she did because of her fellow Amherstburg Rotarians and the support she received from District 6400.

“It’s a family,” she said.

Rib lovers hit Amherstburg for seventh straight year

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Lovers of ribs – as well as chicken, corn, funnel cakes and other food – found Amherstburg to be the place to be over the weekend.

The Amherstburg Rotary Club’s seventh annual Ribfest took place Friday through Sunday with 11,900 passing through the gate at Centennial Park to eat, shop at the vendor tents and enjoy the entertainment.

Carl Gibb, chair of the Ribfest committee, noted that attendance was down last Friday due primarily the thunderstorm that blew through the area but said things bounced back.

Texas Rangers were one of the four ribbers at the Amherstburg Rotary Club's Ribfest, held July 8-10 at Centennial Park.

Texas Rangers were one of the four ribbers at the Amherstburg Rotary Club’s Ribfest, held July 8-10 at Centennial Park.

“(Saturday) was a fantastic turnout,” said Gibb.

Proceeds raised from Ribfest go towards various Ribfest projects, including supporting the Park House Museum. Gibb said the local club is also trying to get a grant to undertake a program so that more homes in town have working carbon monoxide detectors. Newly-installed Amherstburg Rotary Club president Laura Jurilj said that project would be done in conjunction with Amherstburg Community Services and the Amherstburg Fire Department.

“We are presently deciding on what major project we want to get started on too,” added Gibb.

This was the first event for Jurilj as president and she thanked her predecessor Lena Lazanja for her help and service to the club. She also thanked fellow Rotarians, all the volunteers and the sponsors for allowing the event to continue every year, as well as The House Youth Centre for their assistance.

Ribfest drew 11,900 people to Centennial Park on the weekend. Proceeds benefit Rotary projects.

Ribfest drew 11,900 people to Centennial Park on the weekend. Proceeds benefit Rotary projects.

Wayne Titus, past district governor for Rotary, praised the club and the entire Rotary movement. He said there are 10 clubs within Windsor-Essex County and another 38 in the United States that comprise District 6400.

“Rotary does a lot of good in Amherstburg, Essex County and internationally,” said Titus.

Titus said that Rotary Clubs within the district impact area economies to the tune of $5 million annually.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey also brought thanks, as she was one of the 12 judges who graded the four ribbers’ sauce and ribs.

“I think Rotary is one group in the community that really steps up,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey added there is a “sense of community” in Amherstburg, adding she is not surprised there are ten clubs within Windsor-Essex County helping people in their respective communities.

“That is who we are,” said Ramsey.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, another of the judges, was happy to see another community event in Amherstburg.

The judges grade the ribs and sauce Sunday morning.

The judges grade the ribs and sauce Sunday morning. (Photo courtesy of Hugh Douglas)

“We are so fortunate to have such a successful event in the town of Amherstburg,” said DiCarlo. “Not only does it bring people to our town, but the money raised goes back into our town.”

DiCarlo also thanked the many volunteers and supporters for allowing events like Ribfest to be staged.

“Without you, we wouldn’t be able to put these events on,” he said.

Dinosaur was the judges choice for best sauce and ribs. In the sauce and ribs category, the judges ranked Ribs Royale second and Texas Rangers third in both of them. Ribs Royale had the best ribs and sauce in the people’s choice category with Dinosaur taking second in both categories. Blazin’ BBQ had the third best sauce, according to the people, with Texas Rangers having the third best ribs.