Eleven Rotary Clubs across the Niagara Region are inviting people to make a difference while having fun in their own backyard.
The Rotary Big Backyard event, on Aug. 8 and 9, is focused on supporting local restaurants during their struggles with the pandemic.
Residents across the region are encouraged to order takeout from their favourite restaurants and tune in online between 1 and 8 p.m. for a broadcast of 6 local bands at www.rotarybigbackyardevent.org. As of July 29, nearly 20 NOTL restaurants were involved in the event.
The event was spearheaded by the St. Catharines Rotary Club as members were brainstorming how to either postpone, close or change their rib fest for this year because of the pandemic, said Jolanta Janny, fundraising chair and marketing co-chair of the NOTL Rotary Club.
Rather than bring in businesses, potentially from outside of the community, to operate a pop-up style event, “This is the time for us to give back and we want to do something for the restaurants,” Janny said.
“Most of the restaurants lost 85 to 90 per cent of the income for this spring and half of the summer,” she said, “and the restaurant business is really difficult regardless.”
Janny said Rotary recognizes the enormous stress these businesses are under and members wish they could do more, but the event hopes to give many restaurants extra promotion “that shows them that we appreciate that when things were good for them, they were good to us.”
“We are so rich in Niagara, you know, we come with ideas, we overcome obstacles and we’re always positive,” Janny said. “Rotarians are people of action.”
Janny encourages people to support their local restaurants through this difficult time.
“I’m looking at our restaurants and we enjoy eating out,” she said, “what will happen if next year half of them will close? What are we going to do?”
“If everybody would just do a little bit, we might overcome and help the restaurants overcome this because, you know, we worry about our health, but businesses worry about surviving.”