Rotary Club

Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest draws over 13,500 people

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The eighth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest was held over the weekend with a strong crowd of 13,513 people in attendance.

The three-day event took place in Centennial Park with four ribbers – Ribs Royale, Memphis Blazin’ BBQ, Dinosaur BBQ Pit and Texas Rangers – and a variety of craft vendors, children’s activities and other food and drink vendors participating.

People line up for ribs at the eighth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest. The event was July 7-9 at Centennial Park.

People line up for ribs at the eighth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest. The event was July 7-9 at Centennial Park.

“Except for Friday night when we had to evacuate everyone for safety reasons (due to a storm), it’s been a great weekend,” said Carl Gibb, an Amherstburg Rotarian and chair of the Rotary’s Ribfest committee. “The support from the community, as always, has been fantastic.”

Gibb noted the variety of food and crafts and “everyone seems happy.”

“Overall, it was a great weekend,” added Amherstburg Rotary Club president Laura George. “The attendees we had came and enjoyed the ribs. We definitely thank everyone for coming out because without them, the Rotary Club and Ribfest committee couldn’t have pulled off this weekend.”

Gibb and George thanked the committee, the volunteers, sponsors and all who participated in the three-day event. They also thanked the town of Amherstburg for waiving the fees to use Centennial Park and the equipment and for relaxing restrictions on the sign bylaw to help them promote the Ribfest.

People line up for ribs at the eighth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest. The event was July 7-9 at Centennial Park.

People line up for ribs at the eighth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest. The event was July 7-9 at Centennial Park.

“It’s nice to know that, in the end, they know the value of what this festival brings to town and that they know the work of the Rotary Club,” said George.

The Ribfest was up against two other events in the area – including the Fork & Cork in Windsor and the Essex Fun Fest – but the Amherstburg event still managed to draw a strong crowd.

“It says a lot about the town of Amherstburg,” said George.

People line up for ribs at the eighth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest. The event was July 7-9 at Centennial Park.

People line up for ribs at the eighth annual Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest. The event was July 7-9 at Centennial Park.

George acknowledged the break-in that occurred to the grounds early Saturday morning that saw items stolen from several vendors. She said they are working with the Amherstburg Police Service to resolve the matter and extra security was brought on board for the next night.

Gibb pointed out they put all proceeds back into the Amherstburg community. He noted such Rotary projects as the fully accessible playground at Toddy Jones Park, the Miracle League field at the Libro Centre and the acquisition of 600 carbon monoxide detectors that will go into those in the homes of vulnerable residents. The latter project is in conjunction with Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) and the Amherstburg Fire Department.

The Memphis Blazin’ BBQ was the only ribber that hadn’t been to Amherstburg before but they liked what they saw.

The band Moondog Howlers perform Saturday night at the Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest.

The band Moondog Howlers perform Saturday night at the Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest.

“I’m loving it,” said Matthew Kershaw, as he prepared ribs Friday night. “This town is awesome.”

Those who attended enjoyed it as well, with people from Windsor-Essex County and beyond coming to Amherstburg.

“It was nice. I enjoyed it,” said Bernadette Kuzniak of Belle River. “The ribs were good and so was the sauce.

Kuzniak attended with her husband Norm and it was their first time to the Amherstburg Rotary Ribfest after moving back to the area from Waterloo.

“The music is not too bad,” added Norm.

Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone sinks  his teeth into some of the ribs during judging held July 9.

Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone sinks his teeth into some of the ribs during judging held July 9.

Kevin Girard and Kait Fox of Tecumseh also enjoyed themselves.

“We love it,” said Girard. “Our stomachs are full and our fingers are sticky.”
Fox added they were at the Ribfest several years ago and said they plan on coming back.

The Ribfest also drew people from a family reunion, including those from Sugar Grove, Illinois and Jackson, Mississippi.

Arthur Davis, from Jackson, said they stopped in as they were driving back to the United States and wanted to try the Ribfest. Sharon Phillips added they found people in town to be “very friendly” and they gave the experience “two thumbs up.”

“It’s been a beautiful experience,” she said.

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.

Rotary Club gives back to AMA Sportsmen’s Association

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The partnership between the Rotary Club of Amherstburg and the AMA Sportsmen’s Association has continued thanks to a donation from the local Rotarians.

The Rotary Club presented a cheque for $10,000 to the AMA Sportsmen’s Club last Tuesday night with the money to be used from 2017-19.

The money was held in trust from the former Amherstburg Classic golf tournament with Rotary past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja stating many volunteers at the tournament came from the AMA Sportsmen’s Club.

Mangoff-Lazanja added an additional 20 volunteers from the Sportsmen’s Club help out at Ribfest.

“It was wonderful to have that much support,” said Mangoff-Lazanja.

rotarysportsmanweb

The Rotary Club of Amherstburg donated $10,000 to the AMA Sportsmen’s Association with the money spread out between 2017-19. From left: Pat Pettypiece and granddaughter Adelynn, Rotary Club past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja, AMA Sportsmen’s Association president Rod Ferriss and association vice president Ken Tytgat.

Rod Ferriss, president of the AMA Sportsmen’s Association, said the $10,000 over three years will be of great assistance.

“It helps us a lot,” said Ferriss.

Much of the proceeds will assist the AMA Sportsmen’s Club in presenting the Bob Meloche Memorial Fishing Derby held annually in June.

“It’s something we look forward to every year,” said Ferriss.

Ferriss noted that volunteers help make the Sportsmen’s Club and its projects run.

“Without the community and volunteer efforts, nothing would survive in the town of Amherstburg,” said Ferriss.

The Bob Meloche Memorial Fishing Derby is a highlight for children and families annually, Ferriss added.

“It is something Bob would be proud to have this carried on in his name and carrying on the fishing derby for the kids on Father’s Day,” said Ferriss.

District governor offers encouragement to local Rotarians

 

 

By Adam D’Andrea

 

The Rotary Club of Amherstburg hosted a special guest last week who asked their members one crucial question: what gives you your Rotary mojo?

District governor of Rotary District 6400 Sue Goldsen spoke during the club’s weekly meeting at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 last Wednesday night. Before acknowledging the hard work of the local Rotarians, Goldsen gave a brief history of how she came to join the club alongside her husband Bruce many years ago.

“I was so proud to be given the opportunity to have this job. To me, it is the best job in rotary,” she said. “I have a chance to meet incredible people and go out to clubs and see what the clubs are doing.”

Throughout her time in Rotary, Goldsen has hosted exchange students from Brazil in her home as well as travelled to Ghana to help rebuild a school. During the trip, her most memorable experience was taking Polaroid photographs of local children and letting them watch the pictures develop before their eyes.

Rotary Club of Amherstburg president Laura Jurilj welcomes Rotary District 6400 district governor Sue Goldsen to the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 on Sept. 7. (Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

Rotary Club of Amherstburg president Laura Jurilj welcomes Rotary District 6400 district governor Sue Goldsen to the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 on Sept. 7. (Photo by Adam D’Andrea)

“They’d never seen themselves before,” said Goldsen. “Can you imagine being seven, eight or nine years old and you have no idea what you look like?”

The main point of Goldsen’s presentation, however, was to challenge local Rotarians to go out into their community and ask those who are already doing volunteer work to join the Rotary Club of Amherstburg.

“The hard part of asking someone to join the club is done at that point, just as it was for me,” she said. “That person’s already committed to service, that person’s already sold on giving back to the community. They just need to join like-minded people like all of you in this room.”

Goldsen recalled visiting the Rotary Club of Amherstburg in 2008 while her husband was district governor, saying the group was nearly twice the size at the time.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if you could do that one more time? Wouldn’t all of the projects you do in this community be able to be expanded upon?”

She then commended the group on their success in Amherstburg with events such as the annual Ribfest, as well as their backpack program and fish fry dinners. With so much support and collaboration from the community, Goldsen said the hard part of selling people on service and giving back is already done.

“My only wish for you is, because you seem to get a lot of community support in the projects you’re doing, to invite some of these volunteers to come be part of your club,” Goldsen said.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Amherstburg, visit www.amherstburgrotary.com or their Facebook page.