The following was submitted by the Powell River Sea Fair Society, February 18, 2016, in response to the PR Peak article titled, “Poor Finances Sink Sea Fair.”
POWELL RIVER, BC – The Powell River Sea Fair Society has announced that it will be focusing solely on a community parade this year, and the event at Willingdon Beach will be postponed until 2017. The parade will be held on July 23, 2016 along its usual route starting on Joyce, down Alberni and along Marine. “We didn’t make this decision easily, there was a lot of discussion” says Eddie Romagnoli, Sea Fair Society Vice President “but it just makes sense for us this year.”
The decision was made in the wake of several challenges that have sprung up since the last Sea Fair event. The first obstacle came when Westcoast Amusements closed its BC operations, due to the death of the owner Bingo Hauser in the fall of 2015. After Sea Fair’s proposal was rejected by the only other full-service carnival in BC, Sea Fair was suddenly left without its major attraction. “I have seen many shocked faces at the news that the midway is not coming to Powell River” says Jenny Garden, Sea Fair Society President “and I usually have to repeat myself that they are not available next year, or in the foreseeable future.”
The rejection of the carnival is based largely on the fact that Powell River is a remote location and smaller than most Lower Mainland events, where less money is to be made. This news has hit Sea Fair hard financially because the rides typically come to Powell River under a profit-sharing model.
“It was common to see $7000 in revenues come directly from wristband sales and we have come to depend on that income in the event budget” says Garden “if Sea Fair is to continue, then we need to find a way to make up for this loss.”
Several alternative options have been discussed to cope with the financial crunch, but the Society was still not convinced that Sea Fair could be a success. With Sea Fair experiencing some strong event competition, with Logger sports the weekend before and Diversity on the same weekend, Sea Fair has decided to postpone its event.
”It’s also a Kathaumixw year” says Romagnoli “we are all competing for the same sponsors, vendors, volunteers and crowds, we are stretching ourselves too thin.”
To address this issue, part of the discussion around 2017 involves moving the date to earlier in the summer as to avoid community burnout. “We apologize to all the businesses, entertainers and vendors who benefit from Sea Fair” adds Romagnoli, “but especially we apologize to the kids who will miss out.”
The Sea Fair Society has also identified another major topic in regards to its long term viability. “In order for Sea Fair to have a future we need the City to get on board” says Romagnoli “last year we just didn’t see it.”
Sea Fair currently receives $2500 from the City of Powell River, roughly 5% of the overall event budget, and the last two applications for more financial support were rejected. Sea Fair also received $7,500 in-kind support, with much of this being the community shuttle and park fees. The Sea Fair Society plans to make a case with the City for more financial and staff support for 2017, and hopes that a possible new vision in which the City partners more closely with Sea Fair could be possible.
“I know that the City is being asked for money all the time from events” says Garden “but this is Sea Fair, the longest running free family event in Powell River, it deserves more support.”
The Sea Fair Society plans to make a presentation to council as soon as possible and will invite a City representative to sit on the organizing committee. “I also think it’s important for people to know that Sea Fair is not organized by the City” adds Garden “it’s 100% volunteer driven.”
Between now and 2017 the Sea Fair Society has some work to do in order to solve the current issues that it faces, but in the meantime the focus of the volunteer committee will be on the parade.
“We are going to plan a great parade for 2016” says Garden “it will be fun because we can actually have a presence this year because we are not all busy at the beach.”
The Sea Fair Society hopes that Powell River will show its support for Sea Fair and participate in this year’s parade with a large turnout. “It’s also a great time for volunteers to join because we are going to have a lot of fun making the float” adds Garden.
If any one wishes to support Sea Fair they are invited to visit the Sea Fair web site at www.powellriverseafair.ca for more information. Sea Fair will be accepting donations through the web site soon and will be planning some other fundraisers in 2016.