Pumpkinfest should be considered an asset
by Sandy Lindsay

August 25, 2015

Town Council

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"Other communities would kill to have an event like Pumpkinfest, especially in this economic environment, and it is the envy of many communities our size," said Pier Donnini at Saugeen Shores Monday night Council meeting.

Donnini, who is a Port Elgin business owner (Queen's Bar & Grill) and a member of the Pumpkinfest Board and Chamber of Commerce, also pointed out to Council however, that according to many, enthusiasm for the festival appears to be in decline.

"Pumpkinfest has been great for our community, but we cannot take it for granted," he said. "It is going to take the entire community to make a collective decision that it is an important function and serves a lot of purposes but ... it needs to be refreshed."

Although he said that it has infinite potential, there are many things that can be done.  "The volunteers and paid staff are seriously overworked. They put in great efforts all the time and absolutely do their best but I think it is time for our community to view this as an asset rather than just something that happens every year, no matter what."

Donnini said that, for the future, investment will have to be made so that the event can increase its scope and maintain its longevity.

He told Committee of the Whole that there has been a demographic shift and attendance and excitement have been waning at festivals throughout Ontario.  "We need to address this and find ways to 'beef' things up.  The problem is, it takes money to make money and, again, investment is going to have to be made."

He said that, at the end of this year's festival, a collation should be done as to - who is coming, why they are coming, who is not coming and why and what can be done.

"There are many young families where parents now in their 30s and 40s have young children and we have to figure out a way to bring them back to the festival, as I think many of them have lost interest," he added.

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Donnini pointed out that in 2013, a concert was performed with the assistance of a grant and it resulted in a wider demographic of people attending but also said that more should have been done to "... secure these people so that they spend more than just the $10 to get in."

He also raised the aspects of the food section and the car show and whether or not enough was being done with respect to them. 

"I just wanted to alert Council that these are all things that we are going to need to discuss.  There are business people in the community who are concerned and we need to focus ourselves on the event," he added.

Mayor Mike Smith said that the community event has grown and has had great success, winning a number of awards.  "I agree that there is lots of opportunity to grow again and we need new ideas but that doesn't mean to say that this isn't one of the best festivals in southwest Ontario."

Pumpkinfest takes place October 2nd to the 4th.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015