Northwest RibFest moves from Meridian to Nampa

csewell@idahostatesman.comJune 13, 2013 

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Bill Cosdon, left, and Jerry Peterson, prepare chicken at the 2012 Northwest RibFest in Meridian.


— A series of misunderstandings, miscommunications and missed deadlines led the Meridian City Council to deny a special-use permit to promoters to hold Northwest RibFest in Kleiner Memorial Park, just 16 days before the start of the four-day event on June 27.

It is the first time the city has denied a permit of this type.

“You don’t have ducks in a line for anything near as far as I can tell. You don’t have anything inked. It is unfathomable to me,” Councilman Charlie Rountree told event organizers at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Event organizers Randall Nelson and Kasey Thompson told the council that miscommunications and a lack of clarity about what the city required were partly to blame. But that didn’t sway the council.

“The more they talked the deeper the hole got,” Rountree said.

The council voted 3-0 to uphold city staff’s denial of the permit.

Staff denied the permit because the temporary use permit application lacked parking and public safety plans, an insurance certificate and organizers had not applied for an alcohol permit. Staff had communicated this to event organizers, but the deadlines passed without adequate information being provided, staff said.

“It is in the ordinance, every single item they needed,” city attorney Bill Nary told the council. “Everything is in the ordinance. This is not new information.”

Nelson said he thought he had a parking solution. He told the council that at last year’s inaugural event, “there were lots of parking problems and lots of car problems.”

Since then, CenterCal has done more construction on its Village at Meridian project, a 100-acre, $300 million retail and entertainment center adjacent to the city-owned Kleiner Memorial Park.

Nelson estimated RibFest would need about 1,250 parking spaces daily for four days, exceeding the park’s 700 spaces. “There are 2,300 additional parking spaces at CenterCal,” Nelson told the council, saying he had assumed some of that new parking could be used for the event.

CenterCal’s general manager, Hugh Crawford, told the council that is not the case. Those are privately owned parking lots benefiting Village at Meridian tenants and customers.

Nelson said he secured agreements with nearby schools and a church to provide additional parking, after learning adjacent retail and commercial parking lots could not be used for event parking. But it wasn’t enough to convince the council.

Now, the free event has moved to the Idaho Center in Nampa where parking, security, trash cleanup, alcohol service and other details are more easily handled.

“We expect this to be an outstanding community event that serves our mission perfectly to host large and unique outdoor festivals. We hope that this is the beginning of a longstanding annual tradition in the Treasure Valley,” Idaho Center General Manager Craig Baltzer said in a statement.

In addition to a barbecue competition featuring seven teams from around the country, the event also features four concerts: Journey (Unauthorized), Ty Herndon, Billy Dean and Led Zeppellin Live (Tribute Band).

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