Organizers cancel Central Music Festival

  • Aug. 14, 2013 4:37 p.m.

The Central Music Festival has been cancelled.

Organizers with the Central Music Festival have sold less than 100 advance tickets and attracted about the same number of volunteers.

The event was set to take place this coming weekend.

“We need to sell around 800 tickets and double the amount of volunteers we have to safely put on the festival,” said Mike Bradford, president of the Central Music Festival Society. “This is the seventh year and as you know, it has always been a struggle to succeed in this market. This is the worst year for advance sales and volunteer recruitment that I can recall despite an awesome line up and positive feedback from everyone who has ever attended the festival in the past.

“I can’t see any benefit to thinking that we’ll have 700 people ‘walk up’ to the gate – we need to sell that amount of tickets in order to cover the expenses for the weekend. That’s about how many people it takes to fill the Memorial Centre Theatre, and we’ve done that before but for some reason, we can’t do it on an August weekend with 26 acts covering many genres with some of the best musicians in this country, activities for kids, vendors of fine food and wares and a beer garden – all at a reasonable price in a great venue.”

Bradford said despite having to cancel the festival, there has been a lot of support for the event.

“When you look at the situation, we put this thing on with a lot of support – Stan Norem loans us the site, local businesses donate or discount goods and services, the City and County help out some, we get some grants, and total up several thousand hours in volunteer time every year – but we still have to pay out many thousands of dollars for the rest of it,” he said. “If all that support wasn’t there, you could easily double the cost of the festival.

“Where are the people? That’s the missing part of the equation. We market this thing pretty hard.”

He added there are a number of people who have helped make the Central Music Festival a success in previous years.

“Thank you to all the people and businesses who have stepped up to get us this far in the last nine years since the Central Music Festival Society was incorporated.

“Many folks have donated their time and talent over the years to keep this effort going, some of us at significant personal expense,” he said. “These things work in other places, most of the festivals around the province have had years where they struggled, but I really don’t relish the thought of telling anyone that we can’t pay them as promised. I cannot in good conscience move forward with this year’s festival. This is not an easy thing to accept after producing six festivals. In fact, I think that this is the first time I’ve ever had to cancel a show in over 25 years. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

“This is not the end of the story for the Central Music Festival Society. We will regroup and retool this fall to work out on putting together a festival for 2014 with a view to having as close to the same roster as planned for this year.”