Love it or hate it, Rotary's RibFest is a money-maker - InfoNews

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Love it or hate it, Rotary's RibFest is a money-maker

January 13, 2020 - 4:10 PM

The controversial 2019 Sunrise Rotary RibFest appears to be a fundraising juggernaut.

According to a news release issued by Rotary Monday Jan. 13, it raised about $80,000 through sponsorships, beverage garden sales and a raffle that ran concurrently with the festival.

JoeAnna’s House, through the KGH Foundation, was one of the main benefactors and the Rotary Club of Kelowna Sunrise has donated over $40,000 to the home away from home for family members of patients receiving treatment at Kelowna General Hospital.

The facility recently opened under budget and ahead of schedule. Now that JoeAnna’s House is open and the Rotary Club has completed its financial commitment, Kelowna Sunrise Rotarians have selected their next major benefactor, though they aren't revealing who it is just yet.

While the fundraiser is a proven success, it's not without detractors.

A Kelowna branch of Interior Savings was locked down late last year by protesters concerned with the financial institution's support for Ribfest.

Eight protesters chained themselves to the entrance of Interior Savings branch in downtown Kelowna at Bernard Avenue and Richter Street Nov. 18, 2019.

Protesters were removed from the doorway into a waiting police van.

The group said in a press release Interior Savings plays a big role in sponsoring not only the Kelowna RibFest but other RibFests across B.C.

“Festivals like these cannot happen without sponsors donating money, therefore we are calling on Interior Savings to stop supporting a festival that destroys our environment and supports farms that have been proven to conduct criminal animal cruelty,” activist Amy Soranno said.

In this file photo from November, 2019, protesters tied themselves together to prevent staff and customers from entering Interior Savings. They oppose the use of animals for meat and targeted the credit union for its support of the annual RibFest barbecue event in cities and towns in B.C.
In this file photo from November, 2019, protesters tied themselves together to prevent staff and customers from entering Interior Savings. They oppose the use of animals for meat and targeted the credit union for its support of the annual RibFest barbecue event in cities and towns in B.C.

The activists said the Excelsior hog farm in Abbotsford supplies pig ribs to many of RibFest's vendors. They accuse the farm of "criminal animal cruelty" and claim that cruelty has been filmed by undercover investigators.

“We are bringing to the public’s attention that Interior Savings is spending money to support unnecessary animal slaughter, criminal animal cruelty, and the destruction of our planet," Soranno said in the news release.

Soranno and seven others were arrested the day of the protest and charges were supposed to be pending.

A search of court records doesn't indicate that any charges have been laid.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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