VegFest attendees will not be able to lock their lips on an Okanagan Ice Pop at this year’s festival after a short-notice phone call cancelled the festival’s partnership with the flavoured popsicle’s maker.
Robert McPhee, Okanagan Ice Pops founder, said he received a call from VegFest organizers Tuesday afternoon saying the festival’s board decided to discontinue its business relationship with the company.
According to both parties involved, the decision was made due to a limited edition bacon-chocolate flavoured popsicle Okanagan Ice Pops was commissioned to demonstrate at another festival earlier this month.
“I think it’s absolutely unbelievable what they’ve done,” said McPhee.
According to a member of the festival’s organizing crew, Moira Drosdovech, McPhee committed to going 100 per cent vegan after participating in last year’s festival; an important characteristic for the image the festival wants to uphold.
However, it was a commitment McPhee did not follow through with.
“We couldn’t justify keeping him as our sponsor,” said Drosdovech.
McPhee claimed VegFest was aware Okanagan Ice Pops’ menu is 80 per cent vegan, not “exclusively vegan,” and took exception to VegFest’s position given other sponsors include companies that sell meat products, such as Panago Pizza and Choices Market.
“I find it a very glaring example of hypocrisy because you can’t have it both ways,” he said, alluding to the idea his sponsorship was not as pertinent to organizers because he wasn’t funding the festival, only providing samples.
Collectively Panago Pizza, Choice Markets and Nature’s Fare Market has provided $2,000 in funding, according to Drosdovech, money in which, kept organizers from going into “their own pockets.”
“To run this event, we can’t do it without large sponsors,” said Drosdovech. “We need that money.”
The event organizer also made sure to place emphasis on the fact that Okanagan Ice Pops was a “sole” sponsor for the declaration event at City Hall on Wednesday, which in totality, they felt carried heavier weight than being a part-sponsor such as Panago Pizza, Choice Markets and Nature’s Fare Market.
“I’m trying to carve a niche in Kelowna as a small business,” said McPhee. “Now I’ve lost the time and money and the exposure. And my staff members (will) lose out on two days work.”
The Kelowna VegFest will take place May 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Immaculata High School. This will be its second annual event.