Yankton’s Ribfest has been postponed by COVID-19, but the popular festival has survived worse than this.
Organizers of Ribfest announced Tuesday their decision to postpone this year’s event, originally scheduled for June 13 in Yankton’s downtown.
“With everything going on and all the cancellations, we thought postponing would be the best thing for the community,” said Jeff Dayhuff, one of the event’s organizers. “We are going to try to have it in the fall, but we don’t have a date picked out. We are just going to try to play it by ear.”
Several factors played into the decision, but the principal consideration was the safety of the community, he said.
“We had a lot of comments from the community. We are talking to everybody,” Dayhuff said, referring to himself and fellow committee members Mike Carda and Tara Leonard. “We waited until the last minute and decided that was probably the safest thing to do, for now.”
Also, some vendors and sponsors had already backed out for June, he said, citing virus concerns.
Historically, Yankton’s Ribfest been popular, but it has also has been dogged by more than its share of troubles.
In its 13 years of existence, Ribfest has gone from a fall event to a spring event, a one-day to a two-day event and from a free event to a paid event, and back again.
After being unexpectedly shut down by a thunderstorm in Yankton’s Fantle Memorial Park 2016, and unsuccessfully trying to charge a gate fee in 2017, Ribfest’s organizers at the time called it quits.
But two years later, the organizers of Yankton’s Rock ‘N’ Rumble Festival (which is still set for July 25) decided to resurrect Ribfest and returned it to its roots as a street festival in Yankton’s downtown.
This year, the pandemic is causing mass cancellations of events everywhere.
Events cancelled in the area this year so far include the Irene Rodeo, the spring Fishing Derby at Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery, Czech Days in Tabor, the South Dakota Chislic Festival in Freeman, as well as camps, conferences and many sporting events.
But even though Ribfest is merely postponed, it was a tough decision, Dayhuff said.
“We’re going to try to do it in the fall sometime around Labor Day, if possible,” he said. “Everything changes so much every week. We just don’t know when we are going to be able to do it right now.”
The date is being left open, in hopes the event can proceed in safety, he said.
“Ribfest is very popular,” Dayhuff said. “We hope everybody can come together and celebrate Ribfest safely on a different date.”
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