Canal Winchester’s Blues & Ribfest canceled for second year

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
Blues & Ribfest

Canal Winchester’s popular Blues & Ribfest has been cancelled for a second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

Current local and state health and safety restrictions were “problematic” for the event that until last year, attracted thousands to the community each summer.  

It had been scheduled for the last weekend in July, said Karen Stiles, executive director of Destination: Canal Winchester, which organizes the two-day festival. 

“Our biggest problem is that in the state of Ohio, you can only have 30% of your regular occupancy and we’re not a gated event, so I have no way of controlling that,” she said. “We looked for a new location this year but couldn’t find one with access to the water and electricity required by the food vendors and entertainers.” 

Blues performers also want nonrefundable deposits, so waiting to see if restrictions would be lifted wasn’t an option, Stiles added. 

She also noted that vendors would miss out on other opportunities if the festival ended up being cancelled later. 

“It just came to a point where we said, ‘We just can’t make it work and be fair to everybody,’” Stiles said. 

Canal Winchester held its first Blues & Ribfest in 2010. 

In 2019, more than 35,000 people attended the event, which has grown each year with free live entertainment on two stages, more than two dozen food vendors, a large beer garden and a kids’ area. 

In addition to cancelling the Blues & Ribfest last year, Canal Winchester also halted its Labor Day Festival, which would have celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020; the Art on the Canal Art Stroll; and the Reindeer Run – all due to the pandemic. 

No decision has been made about this year’s Labor Day Festival, scheduled for Sept. 4-6. 

The Art on the Canal Art Stroll, featuring central Ohio artists, music, dancing and performances, returns from noon to 6 p.m. May 15. More information is available at destinationcw.org/artStroll

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