Councillor says date change cut crowds at Salmon Festival

Attendance down significantly from recent years

Andrea Gunn
Published on July 7, 2014

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.

Matt Molloy photo

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.

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.