Over the course of the past week the Kootenay Children’s Festival had people from around town step up with financial support that they needed in order to make the festival happen again this year.
“Every year we’re wondering if we’re going to be able to pull it off,” said Early Years Centre coordinator Natalie Vandermolen who took over the Children’s Festival to the Early Years Centre last year. She works for the Community Connections Society of Southeast B.C. and has been applying for grants and funding.
“That’s proving to be successful in small ways but everybody’s always out looking for the same pocket of money,” she said.
This year’s event will be the thirty-third year of the festival, and she explained that it is one of the last running free festivals.
“Most of the festivals now are ticketed entryway and so we want to make sure that all families regardless of their income can attend and participate for free with no obligation to purchase anything.”
She explained that in the past they had thought about asking for donations at the gate, but she reiterated that it would still limit people from coming in.
“I don’t want people to feel obligated to donate so we seek out, businesses, corporate funders, service clubs and such that usually have pockets of money set aside for community events, festivals and programs like this that really benefit all children and families.”
The festival usually draws a crowd of thousands; two years ago they had about 8,000 and last year about 5,500. It takes place at the Mount Baker field every year, and Vandermolen explained that it is weather dependent, as it takes place outdoors and has an outdoor stage.
However, the biggest hurdle is the financial aspect, how to pay for supplies, equipment and the performers. It generally works out to be around a $22,000 day.
“Hopefully we can continue to find funds to support the festival to carry on. Our goal is to make 35 years,” Vandermolen said. “It’s an expensive day but we have a generous community as a whole, we have quite a few business folks that really step up and offer supplies in kind.”
This year the owner of Tim Hortons came through and donated crucial funds when the festival committee was concerned if they were going to reach their funding target. Telus and Telus Ambassadors are a huge support this year, as is Teck. The City of Cranbrook, City Works department, provide items such as bleachers and garbage cans. Key City Theatre has become a key partner including the use of their bathrooms and CMR Optical Lab offering their support, just to name a few.
In terms of performers, the festival has in the past seen names like Fred Penner, and this year they will have festival-favourite The Duck Man and his wife Andorra from Sandpoint, ID. returning — they have performed at nearly every event for the past 33 years. Ktunaxa Dancers will be returning again. They will also have a new act this year called Flying Bob and possibly some local youth performers.
The festival committee are still in need of volunteers and anyone interested in participating personally or as a business group can contact Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (778)-517-5513. The festival takes place on May 12 at Baker Field near Key City Theatre.