Grand Falls-Windsor — This year’s Salmon Festival has continued the losing ways of the three previous events.
The total revenue for the 2010 Exploits Valley Salmon Festival was $410,712, with total 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,” said Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins.
Last year the deficit came in at approximately $45,000.
“This year is even higher than that, which is very disappointing,” Hawkins said, adding when the new council took over, being the first year, they decided to continue with the model used for the last 26 years. “Obviously, it looks like that model is probably not working any longer.”
“I would suggest that there will be some significant changes to the present model that we have because we cannot forever and a day continue to incur these types of deficits,” Hawkins said.
He said he believes there are a number of factors involved in the equation of why the festival loses money, with one of the greatest factors being the outdoor concert.
He said outdoor concerts are not as predictable as an indoor concert because it contends with the weather.
“The other thing is that in Newfoundland and Labrador now, particularly the island part, there are so many people that are getting involved in festivals, everybody wants to have their concert, and there are only so many dollars to go around,” he said.
Also, he said, many of the patrons at one time came from the eastern part of the province. He said there has been a decrease in those numbers, especially since the Mile One venue holds major concerts every three or four weeks.
“There are lots of things we’re going to have to look at,” he said, adding council will have a close look at the Saturday night concert. “But there are some other positive things. One of the positive things is family day and the other was the gospel concert.”
There were 4,481 tickets sold for the Saturday night Salmon Fest concert, which headlined Three Days Grace. Other performers included Matthew Good, Faber Drive, Classified, Doc Walker and Grand Falls-Windsor native Matt Hornell and the Diamond Minds.
The revenue brought in by the concert was $311,686, with the expenses at $443,311, meaning a loss of $131,625.
“The other events that we had made a profit so that minimized the loss,” Hawkins said. “The concert is going to be the focus of our evaluation.”
Approximately 3,000 people attended the gospel concert on Sunday, with approximately 2,500 at the Family Day events.
Newfie Night attendance numbers were down to 1,100 this year, while 1,243 attended the Friday Night Dance. Approximately 530 people enjoyed the Salmon Dinner.
What’s to come?
Hawkins said Deputy Mayor Anne Blackmore will chair the 2011 Exploits Valley Salmon Festival committee. He said 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,” 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 said 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.”
Hawkins said he will be 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.”
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,” 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?” Hawkins asked. “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.”
Hawkins said it will all come down to the evaluation, which the council will work 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.”
Hawkins said he 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, we’ll be able to find a happy medium there and that way we can minimize some of our risks and maximize on the event.”