'It is still a deficit'

Krysta Carroll
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Salmon fest results in loss for town

This year’s Salmon Festival has continued the losing ways of the three previous events.

Three Days Grace were the headliners at the 2010 Exploits Valley Salmon Festival concert. Along with six other acts, the concert still lost over $130,000. Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins said he can see changes to the festival in the near future.

What’s to come?

Mayor Hawkins said Deputy Mayor Anne Blackmore will be chairing the 2011 Exploits Valley Salmon Festival committee. He added the committee is going to have to look closely at the event and how they are going to structure it.

He said getting details about the economic spinoff is also important in evaluating and analyzing the festival.

“Even this year, it was the largest outdoor concert, even though our numbers were down,” Mayor Hawkins said. “We have to start looking at how much longer can we continue to incur deficits like this particular year we’ve had.”

He added the council has already started to collect some numbers, for example, last year $35,000 was put back in wages for people working the concert, and another $30,000-$40,000 went into marketing and advertising.

“That basically goes into the local economy,” he said. “There is a lot of this money that goes back into the economy. So I guess in the end, we have to be able to determine whether that type of investment is getting a good return. If it’s not getting a good return, then obviously we’ve got to look at other options.”

He added he will be very surprised if there are no changes to next year’s festival, but he does not see the festival ending.

“Right now it is just too early to determine exactly what type of event we’ll have,” he said. “The Salmon Festival runs from Thursday to Monday and the concert is one of the events. That’s an area that we’re going to have to look at and I guess probably make some tough decisions on how to go about that.”

expenditures coming in at $536,915, resulting in a net expense of $126,203. “The last number of years there have been more expenses incurred than revenue, which some people call a loss, some people call it an expense, but the bottom line is whichever way you look at it, whichever way you cut the cloth, it is still a deficit.” Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins

Mayor Hawkins said he has heard people say the concert needs bigger acts, and though it would cost more money, they could come anyway.

“That might be true, I am not too sure it is,” Mayor Hawkins said. “How much risk are you willing to take?”

He said this year, the new council decided to cut $100,000 off of the budget when it came to performers.

“The question becomes because you cut that $100,000, did you have less entertainment than you should have had or whatever,” Mayor Hawkins said. “These are questions that we have to answer and we will do that.

“It is what it is and we’ll face it head on.”

Mayor Hawkins said it will all come down to the evaluation, which the council will be working on.

“We’ll determine what we feel is in the best interest of the town and how we want to promote the town,” he said. “Obviously, you are going to be criticized if you have a deficit, and nobody really says a whole lot when you have a surplus. That goes with the territory. You have to take the good with the bad and, hopefully, when you make decisions that they are in the best interest of what we want to achieve with this particular event.”

Mayor Hawkins added he still believes the festival is a good event and there are a lot of positive things to get from it.

“But we have to find a way to minimize the risk and maximize our returns on the concert,” he said. “Hopefully be able to find a happy medium there and that way we can minimize some of our risks and maximize on the event.”

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Thats Crazy
    October 07, 2010 - 23:43

    Al, a typical politician, blame the prevoius administration. Two years of losses should have been proof that the "model is probably not working". How much proof do you need? Look at hiring a special events coordinator who is trained in this area with experience not the employees who were responsible for the last three festivals. It seems that the all day concert is not working consider saturday nite concert with 2 - three acts . Note to council the family day and gospel concert had a good turnout hint hint! And remember that the stage is there 365 days a year Also there are alot of country fans and classic rock fans.

  • John Fewer
    October 05, 2010 - 20:55

    Time to refocus. It's an outdoor sporting event(fishing) not a music event. The focus has always been the concert. IF it survives it needs better organization going forward. Go with acts that the fisherman will enjoy and more events that get people out fishing and promote the sport and fish tourism in the area. Many past concert goers have left for greener pastures and a few small name bands won't draw them back. The weather has never been a problem. Hot, cold, or wet these acts are small time draws in their own towns. Other towns like Paradise and Mt Pearl can easily bring in larger acts during the same weekends, and concert goers faced with spending money to come to GF-W or stay home, the decision is an easy one. Here in Halifax we can't even sustain major pop/rock acts. This year saw less than 5000 for the Black Eyed Peas and tickets being given away. Paul McCartney only had 26,000 in a metro area with potential access to 5x that. Grossly high ticket prices prevent many from attending. To enter a field here would cost a couple or family upwards of $500 for the day. A loss of $130K is still a loss and it has to come from somewhere. What happens if the same occurs next year? Book the biggest act out there and it's still only accounts for 8 hours of one week. The idea was supposed to be about highlighting tourism for the area. Most youth don't know why it's called the Salmon Festival in the first place and most of the anglers probably don't even bother with the field activities. Thats why it has failed. For GF-W it's not about which bands that will save the festival, it needs a complete re-do. During my last visit home 2 years ago I was surprised how quiet the town was the Friday night before. I remember Jimi-Jaks being blocked every night for a week straight 10 years ago. The towns youth base has grown up and moved on and isn't being replaced. No one has funds to party outside their homes much less for 8 hours with bands they do not know or would ever care to listen to. You get 1 shot once a year to entertain. Make it count.

  • Bob
    October 05, 2010 - 12:51

    If you want to make the big bucks you have to start bringing in the bigger bands. Bands that are worthy of us people living on the "mainland" to go home to enjoy. Every year I wait to see what the line up is before I book my tickets for my flight. And more often that not I decide to wait until august to fly home. I am from GF-W and if you guys start listening to what the people say things will get better. You cannot streamline that type of event and still expect to make large profits. Or to even break even for that matter. Bring in the big headliner and people will come. rain or shine , people will come. But it has to be a BIG headliner. If not , scrap the salmon festival as the people have spoke loud and clear.

    • Glenn
      October 07, 2010 - 03:49

      I agree BOB .......100%.

  • MAX
    October 05, 2010 - 11:14

    Tax payers better be prepared to open your wallet..

    • jily
      October 06, 2010 - 10:55

      It’s time to focus and concentrate on the people of Grand Fall Windsor and provide them with entertainment they want to see. Enough of the big bands…have a number of different venues with different bands …options for all people to see. It’s time to do a complete overhaul of the Salmon Festival ……look at the various types of events/ music , venue’s. Downsize with the economy and make it an event that the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor can continue to be proud of. I am from GFW and I’ve gone to numerous concerts but in the past few years, I’ve had to make a choice between concerts in St.John’s or waiting to hear the line up for GFW and the weather. Each time I’ve chosen the concert in St.John’s, it has to do with the promise of a great venue and not having to worry about the weather. Not everyone can go to 2 or 3 concerts a year … we have to pick and choose. I would like to commend the town on the family day and the stadium dance this past year. Looking forward to the new Salmon Fest 2011 !