Kelowna to lose a festival?

Festival fans may have one less event to attend in Kelowna next summer.

As the cleanup got underway for what most have deemed a successful run for the Center of Gravity, organizer Scott Emslie admitted that putting together a profitable festival is becoming challenging.

"The market for festivals has changed a bit," he said Monday, noting that B.C. is bursting with events similar to his signature offerings, the Centre of Gravity and Keloha.

That, he explained, is stretching thin the audience, which could cause trouble down the road.

"It's a very expensive festival to hold, and we need to have the numbers (in attendance) to justify bringing in these types of performers and sports events," he said.

As is, the usually sold out COG saw a 90 per cent attendance rate, while response to Keloha was more tepid.

"We need to run the numbers to see if they're both sustainable," said Emslie.

That will happen in the next two to three weeks, then by mid August he should have reached a verdict.

Whether or not Emslie comes back next year with two festivals remains to be seen, but he's clear on one thing—he wants whatever event he organizes to occupy the August long weekend again.

"We volunteered to move off the long weekend last year after a number of meetings with downtown residents and local businesses," he said.

The mind set, at that point, was that the event had sold out three years in a row, so it was unlikely to suffer from moving out of the weekend spot.

"We still had good numbers, but we didn't sell out," he said, adding that all of the sport and music events drew in a solid audience.

"I think the weekend had a big impact on that. We've seen a lot of people coming in from Calgary and Edmonton over the last couple of years, and having that extra day on the weekend made it easier for a lot of people to come."

If this year's event is any indication, however, there won't be a lot of blowback if Emslie tries to reclaim the long weekend.

Police reported that the event was very well organized and problems were kept to a minimum.

Overall, the number incidents within the festival grounds were down.

"It was a very well-run event with one of the biggest issues continuing to be those who chose to overindulge," said Const. Kris Clark.

And, said Emslie, even the clean-up was going well.

"We have a really good site crew and waste management team," he said.

Follow the Capital News for an update on the viability of local festivals in weeks to come.


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