Stealing the thunder

St. John’s festival names concert headliner on Salmon Festival date

Published on February 26, 2015

Salmon Festival 2014 has cost the town of Grand Falls-Windsor about $500,000 council confirmed at their meeting tonight.
Advertiser file photo

File photo

The Exploits Valley Salmon Festival has just been dealt another body blow.

An announcement was made this morning of a concert in St. John’s on the same day (July 11) as this year’s Salmon Festival with international music start Rod Stewart headlining.

The much maligned Grand Falls-Windsor-based music concert has been under the microscope of late having lost nearly a half million dollars last year; experienced the parting of ways with its promotion firm; and a much publicized logistical issue of 2013 which many think contributed to last year’s financial hiccup.

Another contributing factor to last year’s dismal financial outcome was a juggling of dates with many would-be concertgoers unable to plan time to visit the Central region as they have in the past when the concert was held on a more concrete date.

In February, Grand Falls-Windsor council announced the date of this year’s concert to help eliminate that factor. It also announced that the major act would soon be named

“We felt it was important to establish the date so that people can make plans for the summer,” Salmon Festival Committee Chairman Darren Finn said in a Feb. 9 Advertiser story. “We have just secured a major concert headline so the date is definite.”

As of today no announcement has been made. The Advertiser has not received a response to a request from Finn for comment on how this announcement might affect the Salmon festival.

Stay tuned as the Advertiser tracks this story and its effects on one of the region’s cornerstone events and a major economic contributor.

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“Well now,” said Exploits Regional Chamber of Commerce President Kris Spurrell when delivered the news about the announcement. “It remains to be seen exactly how much, but this is definitely a blow to the Salmon Festival.”

“I understand the town has been planning to go with a country act this year, so that might help soften the blow,” he continued. “I guess now it’s going to depend a lot on which acts the town brings in.”

The Salmon Festival is a popular event, with a loyal audience, Spurrell noted.

“People proactively plan to travel here for it, so that’s one thing they have going for them.”

He’s not surprised an announcement like this came, though.

“I’ve heard through the grapevine for a while now that St. John’s was considering something like this,” he told the Advertiser this afternoon. “You’re really competing for the same dollar, and being in business, we certainly know what competition is all about.”

 

Mayor Al Hawkins believes the town’s package of entertainment will stand up to the competition from the Capital City concert.

“We hope to be able to make an announcement maybe even tomorrow or maybe Monday,” he said. “We’ve always had the stand that we didn’t want to make announcements in piecemeal – we want to announce a package.

“That puts a little more pressure on us, but…. this is certainly not for the feint of heart,” he added. “It’s not easy to finalize things when dealing with acts…it’s just not something that gets turned around in 24 hours.

“Unfortunately for us we haven’t finalized it yet, and for us as a council its even more frustrating because we have everyone wanting an announcement.”

The mayor termed the head-to-head – Central against the City dynamic, “unfortunate.“

 “From the town’s perspective, we’re just moving ahead. They picked a date that goes head to head with us, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

“We feel we have a good package and now it will be up to the people if they want to go to St. John’s or come to Grand Falls-Windsor,” the mayor concluded.