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Rotaryfest organizers hope for virtual concert of local bands in August

Saultites will have to wait another year for live music, ribs, car show, parade
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Northwest, headed by lead singer Wayne Watkins, played at SooToday Stage Two during Rotaryfest, July 20, 2019. Darren Taylor/SooToday

No ribs this year.

No car show.

No bands either.

In fact, there will be no Rotaryfest or Community Day Parade at all this year, leaving a big hole in the Sault’s July community events calendar.

The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie’s board approved the recommendation from the three Rotaryfest planning committee co-chairs (Dante Carlascio, Rod Goodall and Paul Walz) to not hold Rotaryfest or the Community Day Parade this year at the service club’s June 25 board meeting.

As reported earlier, Rotaryfest officials were hoping for an August Rotaryfest and Community Day Parade while aware that was a slim possibility due to Ontario government COVID-19 restrictions on the size of social gatherings.

The annual Midway, a yearly next-door event to Rotaryfest, will also be absent from the grounds north of the Civic Centre while Clergue Park lies bare.  

“We’re at the mercy of what the evolving public health situation is like,” Carlascio said, speaking to SooToday.

However, Carlascio said “the club is working toward a virtual event (concert) for the end of August for local bands. That’s something that is in the works that the club is working on.”

Official word on that will hopefully come soon, Carlascio said.

So we know what’s not going to happen for the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie in 2020 (the Easter Seals Telethon being another Rotary event which became a cancellation victim earlier this year due to COVID-19 restrictions).

What will?

Carlascio said Rotary’s annual car draw (usually held during Rotaryfest in July) will happen once a license is applied for, and hopefully held in tandem with the Santa Claus Parade (another Rotary event) in November.

Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie, in the meantime, is holding 50/50 monthly raffles for Easter Seals, tickets available by clicking here.

“We’re going to continue that for the foreseeable future, hopefully to make up for some of that money the telethon didn’t bring in,” Carlascio said.

This year’s Rotaryfest was originally scheduled for July 16-18.

The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie was established in 1918.

Optimistically looking forward to next year’s festivities, Carlascio said 2021 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Community Day Parade. 

While last year’s parade theme celebrated the Academy Awards, Carlascio anticipated next year’s parade will have an extra celebratory ‘we’re back’ feel to it.

Carlacio added the club is looking at bringing in beer and wine sales (with appropriate security measures in place) for next year’s Rotaryfest in Clergue Park.

“As sad as I am not to have Rotaryfest this year, it makes me energized to have next year’s Rotaryfest hopefully bigger and more vibrant and I hope the community will feel the same way.”


Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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