Councillor says date change cut crowds at Salmon Festival

Andrea Gunn
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Attendance down significantly from recent years

While the town is not yet releasing ticket sales numbers for the 2014 Toyota Salmon Festival concert, it was obvious attendance at this year’s event, which was headlined by Maroon 5, was not quite up to snuff.

There was a little more elbow room at this year’s Salmon Festival compared to the record breaking 21,000 concertgoers that packed Centennial Field for The Eagles in 2013. The Town attributes the lower attendance to the change in dates.

While Salmon Festival committee chair councillor Darren Finn wouldn’t provide his own numbers, he said the estimates of between 8,000 and 9,000 that have been suggested by other media sources could be “in the ballpark.”

To compare that to previous years, in 2011 there were 18,000 attendees, 16,000 in 2012 and last year there were a record 21,000 fans in attendance for the concert, which featured headlining act The Eagles.

Finn said he doesn’t have figures on how much money exactly the town — a 25 per cent partner with promoters SRO Entertainment — lost at this year’s event at this time.

Last year, Finn told the Advertiser their “break even” number of attendees was about 16,000. He said it would be similar this year.

In 2012 when Aerosmith headlined the event the town lost $2,500, and made $42,337 with Kiss in 2011. Last year they made a record $180,000 from the concert.

Finn explained that while some municipalities budget for expenditures when planning their annual festivities, the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor does not.

“In the past three years (the town) has made $250,000 on the concert and that money went into general revenue,” Finn explained. “In the event that we do lose any amount – and we’ll determine what amount that is in the future after ticket sales are known – then that comes from general revenue as well.”

There has been much speculation on social media that the lineup, which included new and popular acts like Maroon 5, Pitbull, and American Authors, contributed to the lacklustre attendance by pandering to a younger crowd. Finn maintains that it was the date change, not the lineup, that caused the problem.

“I would categorize it as the major reason,” Finn said. “Changing the date was something we did not want to do – absolutely our worse case scenario – that that had to happen.”

Finn stressed that this year’s options were to either change the date from the originally announced July 12 to July 5, or not have a concert.

“Given that we didn’t have a choice and we had a commitment to deliver a major concert, we proceeded and we said, ‘We’ll commit to delivering a concert to those who buy tickets and we’ll make sure they have an amazing experience,’” he said.

Finn said next year there will be no change in dates; organizers will make sure the date that’s initially announced will be the date that the event takes place.

Organizations: Town of Grand Falls-Windsor

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Recent comments

  • Bob
    July 09, 2014 - 16:50

    Paul you need to look at the much bigger picture. Of course the concert would be a success to those who attended !!!!! The numbers don't lie, a much smaller crowd with such an astronomical payout to the bands = total failure and in the red when the bills are paid !!! "Smaller numbers and no complaints" ??? Ask the organizing committee about complaints !!! Do you think there all smiles right now ?? Give your head a shake dude !!! We all know that the town does an awesome job, but when the entertainment isn't there, the numbers reflect it. Let's not kid ourselves about that. That was the case for many many years until Kiss, Aerosmith and the The Eagles. Maroon5 is not a big enough name band to warrant the hundreds or even thousands of us who fly home for the Salmon Festival Concert to even want the hassle of attending. It's all good though, just means a Christmas visit back home with friends and family this year !!!

    • Andre
      July 11, 2014 - 14:43

      The promoters are from New Brunswick, not NL. I know them personally. By the way 12,348 tickets were sold. Break even point 7500. Do the math guys, Grand Falls is getting ripped off by 2 Newbrunwickers.. And they say nflders are not stupid...hmmmmmmmm

  • JMAP
    July 08, 2014 - 22:39

    The worst-case scenario....... was the line-up not the change in date......say it like it is....the line-up was totally lacking.....and young people don't have the $$$$$ to spend......hope you learned a lesson from last years fiasco. Anyone who knows music wasn't at the Salmon Festival this year. You had a whole year, a total lack of planning, or tunnel vision.

    • dan
      July 09, 2014 - 09:44

      To JMAP and Bob.....you two negative Nancys are typical stupid Newfs. Get over yourselves. We all know things didn't go so well this year for the GFW and Salmon Fest. So what! There are bigger things in life. They will rebound....they don't do this for 30 years without learning and moving forward. You two sorry clowns can leaving your small minded attitudes home and don't come next year. We'll do fine enough without you.

  • Bob
    July 08, 2014 - 16:03

    I can't believe that such a smart individual would make such an outlandish comment that the low numbers were all because of the date change. My wife and I and many many other NL'ers living in Alberta fly home every year for this event regardless of the date. Please don't try to sell everyone that it was because of the date change, some yes, the vast majority stayed away because of the line up. Those are the FACTS as I see them. Start the planning of next years concert now and let's not wait until December !!! If the big names are booked, the big crowds attend the concert. It's that simple folks !!!!

  • Paul
    July 08, 2014 - 11:06

    there is just no pleasing some people...I heard that the concert was a success...smaller numbers but no complaints...the actually let people come and go from the field this time...unlike in the past.

  • Darrell
    July 08, 2014 - 09:26

    Its obvious that GFW didn't get who they wanted and when they wanted them. So they had to go to plan B. It didn't go as well as they hoped but good on them for trying. You don't have a Salmon Festival for 30 years running and not to have hick ups along the way. Keep up the good work GFW and we look forward to seeing you again next year.

  • Thomas
    July 08, 2014 - 07:20

    Nothing to do with the date for us and everything to do with the entertainment. We always planned a week out in central around the salmon fest. 3-4 families. We would drop roughly 5k each into the towns coffers during our stay. Even though ticket sales were low the impact on the local economy must have been devastating and I would think everyone from the towns 25% stake to the corner store owner had been impacted as a good many of the patrons were out there on mom and dad's dime and not spending money. It is disheartening when you plan for Elton john to bring in 20,000 people and you end up with a garden party crowd when he cancels.

  • Al
    July 07, 2014 - 22:00

    It wasn't the date... many people from the previous year vowed not to duped again by the gouging and poor planning... not interested in paying hundreds of dollars to get access and then be expected to pay such high prices for food and water. 21,000 to 8,500 is not due to date changes. It will take a long time to build back public confidence!!!

  • tom
    July 07, 2014 - 18:59

    A lousy line up and passed people remember last year cost you dearly this year. Looks good on you. Bring big talent and stop gouging and you may get your numbers back.

  • Bob
    July 07, 2014 - 18:37

    Dare I say the "Salmon Festival" has finally jumped the proverbial shark.You've had your run and now have shot yourselves in the foot gents.Time to shut her down.

  • Dood
    July 07, 2014 - 17:57

    Never went. Still remember getting ripped off last year.

  • bill
    July 07, 2014 - 17:38

    What went wrong here is obvious!! With Aerosmith, Kiss and The Eagles, all in the past few years, salmon fest was starting to look good. Everyone in the province was excited about it. We were willing to brave the beer tent fiasco. We were willing to brave the lack of water and dangerously hot temperatures. We were willing to wait until the last minute on the promise that a good act was going to come, and we were willing to drive hours and hours and hours and book hotels or sleep in tents, because it would all be worth it, when we all get to see a legendary band and have a once in a lifetime experience. So, we waited, and waited and waited, until the big announcement came: MAROON 5 !!!! I saw the dissapointed looks on peoples faces. I had the conversations. I overheard the complaints, and I could see the disgust in people's eyes when I brought up the subject. I talked to a lot of people and they all had to say the same thing. There is NO WAY that anyone is going to pay the highest ticket price of any concert this year and drive hundreds of kilometers to watch a band that has already been forgotten 5 years after they peaked. KISS, Aerosmith, and The Eagles are legendary bands that will never be forgotten. You hire someone that's been a legend since the 70's and you're gonna get results. You hire some punk kids who had a few lucky hits last year and this is what happens. It's your own fault. If you were going to hire someone to build your house, would you hire an ol' skipper who's been building houses for 30 years, or some young know-it-all punk fresh out of academy canada? Stop trying to blame the change of dates or otherwise trying to justify your own failures. If you have good bands, people will come. The date doesn't matter. You guys are worse than used car salesmen, trying to sell us crap that we don't want or need, and then covering your tracks when it doesn't work. Nobody likes these bands. NOBODY. Don't try to sell me a ford tempo and tell me it's a Cadillac. 8000 tickets shy of breaking even at around $120 per ticket, well in my mind you guys just lost about a million dollars. This is the price of bad judgement. It will take you 10 successful salmon festivals to recoup this loss, and maybe as many years to admit that you screwed up.

  • W Bagg
    July 07, 2014 - 16:51

    low attendance because last year was a circus, and Maroon 5 doesn't attract as many as The Eagles or Kiss.