Canada’s Largest Ribfest Issues Marketing RFP

Canada’s Largest Ribfest Issues Marketing RFP

Canada’s Largest Ribfest is a fundraising event of the Rotary Club of Burlington Lakeshore, an event started in 1996 which has become Burlington’s premier summer event. Since its inception, it has raised more than $3,000,000 for Rotary’s charitable causes. The Burlington RibFest has also been recognized as one of the Top 100 Festivals in Ontario, and as Rotarians, the club provided the groundwork for most similar events around the province. Rotary is an international service organization with the motto: Service Above Self. The mission of Rotary International is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.

The event takes place Labour Day weekend at Spencer Smith Park on Burlington’s Waterfront. Our attendance is about 150,000 people over the weekend. Our highest ever turnout was just over 180,000 people. Admission is free and the main draw for visitors are the 19 ribbers, which is the most number of ribbers at a festival in Ontario. We have many other food vendors typical to outdoor festivals – ice cream, fries, blooming onions, cotton candy, vegan food options and more. The entire park is licensed and we have three beverage tents serving a variety of beer, coolers, wines and soft drinks. In terms of entertainment, we have two stages and have live music throughout the weekend. We have had major acts such as the Trews and Finger Eleven, but typically we have local favorites, cover bands and tribute bands. We also have a midway with a variety of rides for all ages. We have a number of activations for businesses trying to promote their products, credit unions, beverage agencies, car dealerships, home improvement contractors etc. We also have a number of vendors who sell a wide variety of products. We rely on about 3,000 to 4,000 volunteer hours during the event to ensure it is a success. We have just completed our 23rd annual Ribfest. Our primary revenues sources for the event are vendor fees, sponsorship and beverage sales. Our website is We also have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Canada’s Largest Ribfest is run by a committee of volunteers from the Rotary Club of Burlington Lakeshore. The group has sub-committees which coordinate specific tasks such as vendors, entertainment, VIP, beverage, security, finance, marketing and more. The Operations Manager is a year-round employee who provides support to the committee and manages many aspects of the event planning process. She also hires and oversees two summer students who provide hands-on support in the weeks leading up to and during the event. The committee meets about ten times a year to discuss plans and make decisions. It would be beneficial for all parties if an agency contact was at these meetings to get an understanding of progress, to exchange ideas and collaborate as we are continuously striving to improve the event.

With the proceeds of the event, we give funds to both local and international causes. Recently we gave

$250,000 to the Joseph Brant Hospital, $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity and have pledged $150,000 to the Carpenter Hospice expansion program. Our club focuses on youth. We award graduate scholarships and awards each June in excess of $60,000. We also support international causes through projects and scholarships including water and sanitation, disease prevention and treatment, maternal and child health, education and literacy, economic and community development.

Scope of Work:

Primary Marketing Goals

  • Ensure the community is aware of the event
  • Attract new patrons to the festival especially targeting Stoney Creek, Grimsby and Beamsville area
  • Optimize our advertising spend between radio, broadcast, print and digital media to ensure we are reaching our target audience in the most cost-effective manner
  • Communicate needs, specifical recruitment of volunteers
  • Promote the good we do in the community with the funds raised
  • Promote our sponsors
  • Communicate changes in the event for the current year
  • Provide information about how to get to the event, what to bring etc.
  • Increase donations online and at the event
  • Re-evaluate our website and determine if it is time for a re-design

The current budget for advertising spend, printed materials and signage: $30,000.

Project objectives include:

  1. Email marketing strategy
  2. Print advertising strategy
  3. Social media strategy
  4. Search engine marketing
  5. Forward-thinking website
  6. Sponsor recruitment, management and retention

Specific tasks include but are not limited to:

  • Graphic design for ads, signage and print materials
  • Social media support and management (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Media relations (media releases, responding to media inquiries, media outreach, preparation                for event spokespeople)
  • Develop content and materials for advertising
  • Support maintenance of the website
  • Provide guidance and support for digital advertising and search engine optimization
  • Coordinate of Media Launch Event on the Tuesday prior to the event
  • Develop a sponsorship package and program
  • Outreach to potential sponsors
  • Maintain contact with sponsors, escalate questions to committee Co-Chairs or Operations       Manager as needed
  • Receive signed agreements and forward payments to Rotary Club
  • Support event team in ensuring all sponsorship commitments are met
  • Prepare fulfillment reports for each sponsor following the event

Due Date:

November 19th


ATTN: Cristina Saban

1455 Lakeshore Road, #202N

Burlington, ON L7S 2J1

Shift Communications has a Canadian office.

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