Festivals and events in central and northern B.C. come in all shapes in sizes. Many of them are run by hard-working non-profits and their legions of volunteers. These events are the highlight of the season in their communities and are a major draw for tourists to the area. As is the case with event planning for non-profits in small communities, obtaining funding year-after-year is a challenge – this is where the Trust comes in.
In the Fall of 2015, Northern Development launched it’s Fabulous Festivals and Events program, which provides non-profit organizations with up to $2,500 in grant funding. The program supports unique festivals and events throughout the region contributing to service sector revenues in the local economy.
Both Summer and Winter in Northern B.C. provide prime opportunity for a slew of engaging and locally relevant events. As we wind up summer and review the past year of the program, Northern Development is proud to have learned about and supported so many incredible festivals throughout the region.
And guess what? They can apply for funding again for next year’s events. That’s what we mean by ‘sustainable funding’ – a $2,500 grant our region’s signature festivals and events can rely on year after year and encourage more residents and visitors to enjoy all the culture our region has to offer.
Music festivals offer unique opportunities and challenges to communities in the region. Challenges include everything from recruiting and managing volunteers to ensuring enough accommodations for the influx of festival-goers. Grants that organizations can apply for year-after-year are ideal for growing community capacity and ensures that organizers can focus more on providing excellent experiences for locals, visitors and artists.
Edge of the World Music Festival in Haida Gwaii has been around since the 1970s, putting a spotlight on the beautiful surroundings, unique culture and fantastic music. Scott Marsden, of Edge of the World Music Festival Society, put a lot of effort into developing a series of workshops and is already looking forward to applying to the program again next year. This is the first time the festival has hosted workshops.
“Northern Development’s grant provided us the opportunity to host workshops during the festival. These ranged from yoga for adults and kids, beat-making, and even Northern and Southern Haida dialects. The funding allowed us to offer honourariums to instructors and purchase supplies. The workshops were incredibly popular with more than 300 people attending workshops over the two days. These workshops allowed festival goers, both from Haida Gwaii and beyond, to learn new unique skills. Investing in our festival is an investment in our community, as festival attendees frequent B&B’s, hotels and cafes near the festival grounds as well as local vendors on the festival grounds. Next year, we hope to expand the workshop programming. We will definitely be applying to the program next year.”
In 2016, ArtsWells had 2,500 attendees (with 2,000 in 2015 ). Wells has a population of approximately 250. The festival showcases the area, leveraging Wells’ unique buildings and history. Since the festival presents a broad interpretation of the arts, it has helped brand Wells and Barkerville as a centre for artists and artistic endeavours. David Jacob Harder of Island Mountain Arts Society was pleased with how the grant funding allowed the festival to advance on the technical side.
“The grant we received from Northern Development was put to good use in updating our sound equipment and other technical infrastructure. We had people come to us to say that the sound quality this year was the best year yet, which is absolutely fantastic. The Fabulous Festivals and Events program afforded us the ability to address technical issues from the past to put on our best festival yet!”
The fact that festival organizers can apply every year means that their events can count on continued support for years to come.
Chris Blois of Bulkley Valley Folk Music Society was thrilled that the grant funding can continue to support the Midsummer Music Festival in Smithers.
“The Bulkley Valley Folk Music Society is extremely grateful for the support from the Northern Development. As a non-profit society, the extent to which we are able to fulfil our mandate relies heavily on funding opportunities. The Fabulous Festivals and Events program provides this support to communities in the north. Northern Development is allowing us to continue to provide for our community.”
In Prince George, popular community events accessed funding from the Fabulous Festivals and Events Program to make them better than ever.
Every year, Two Rivers Gallery in downtown Prince George hosts the BMO KidzArt Dayz. This year, they were able to secure an exciting guest to entertain families during the two-day event. Carolyn Holmes, managing director of Two Rivers Gallery, was incredibly excited with the success of BMO KidzArt Dayz 2016.
“With funding from Northern Development’s Fabulous Festivals program, Two Rivers Gallery was able to secure Fred Penner as our mainstage performer for BMO KidzArt Dayz and promote our event across Northern B.C. More than 10,000 people participated in the creative celebrations, doubling the attendance of previous years!”
Hot Day at Otway and Downtown Summerfest are two other Prince George events that accessed grant funding from the Trust.
Other kid-friendly events in the region included Masset Harbour Days, Edge of the World Music Festival and Terrace Riverboat Days.
Agriculture plays an important role in the history of the region and the economic future. Fairs across the region not only celebrate harvests, but the people who live here as well by showcasing the hard work of agricultural workers and artisans.
Jessica Clement with the Ashcroft and District Fall Fair Association is preparing for the 2016 Ashcroft and District Fall Fair on September 11. There has been an agricultural exhibition in Ashcroft since 1889. Agriculture has been part of Ashcroft’s history for a very long time with the current Fall Fair being an integral part of that history.
“Accessing the grant funding from Northern Development this year has allowed us to make the fair’s admission ‘by donation’. We’re really excited to see people come from around the region to participate and are hoping the change in admission impacts attendance!”
The Village of Ashcroft’s economy largely relies on industry as a driver. Primary industries in Ashcroft are mineral extraction and agriculture. Ashcroft acts as a residential base and service centre for many industrial businesses in the area.
Other fairs recently funded by the Fabulous Festivals and Events program include the Nechako Valley Exhibition, the Kiskatinaw Fall Fair, the Lillooet Apricot Tsaqwem Fest and the Lake District Fall Fair.
This Labour Day weekend, Gold Country is the place to be. Gold Country Communities Society (GCCS) is hosting their 4th annual Gold Country Geocache Event. The event also happens to be the Trust’s 2000th approved project. The geocaching weekend runs September 2 to 5, giving participants a chance to explore all participating communities: Lillooet, Clinton, Loon Lake and Cache Creek. The event will highlight 144 geocache sites throughout the area on hiking trails and in town. The weekend will have a variety of fun events in the communities. Participants can expect barbecues, pancake breakfasts and movie nights.
Geocaching is a modern treasure hunt. GPS technology is used to locate boxes hidden throughout the region to uncover small treasures left behind. Sites and their coordinates can be downloaded to find clues leading to each cache. Geocachers then sign log books and swap the treasures left behind with something of theirs before re-hiding it for others to find.
“Gold Country is so very grateful for the financial support that we get from Northern Development. The funding that they provide to our various initiatives that we have to increase tourism and economic development in our region, gives our marketing a level we would never be able to obtain without their support,” says Terri Hadwin of Gold Country Communities Society.
Being able to access grant funding for small-budget events is an incredible asset.
“The ‘Fabulous Festivals and Events’ program is so very needed. To put on our annual geocaching event takes a great amount of staff and volunteer time. Fundraising for events can be difficult while trying to budget, plan, market and execute an event. Having this financial support makes it so much easier to devote time to marketing and planning,” says Hadwin.
For this event, Northern Development and GCCS have created special “trust tokens”, which will be hidden in geocaches throughout the area. These can be found in the permanent Gold Country GeoTour geocaches, or earned at daily events. Geocachers who collect 10 of the Trust’s tokens can redeem them for one of 30 limited edition geocoins.
“On average we have about 400 unique entry logs for the geocaching weekend,” she says. “About 90 per cent of the participants are from outside the Gold Country region.” Hadwin adds that organizers have been told that some people plan their yearly vacation around the annual event. “We have people come from Alberta and Seattle every year.”
This summer, our interns made sure to make the most of their placements throughout the region to visit and participate in different events. From introducing family to local stops, to racing through the woods, our interns have made this a summer to remember and are excited to revisit the events they loved next year.
Danielle, Economic Development Intern
“Downtown Summerfest in Prince George was a lot of fun. I brought family from out of town and they loved it. The local food and petting zoo were definitely a highlight for us. My niece and sister-in-law even bought gifts for their friends from the artisan vendors!”
Brian, Business Development and Communications Intern
“Terrace Riverboat Days has something for everyone. I really enjoyed the street fair in particular. So fun to watch magician, artists and dancers. The event is a great time of year to showcase local shops to out-of-towners. I enjoyed directing people to my favourite stops for gifts and food.”
Deklan, Economic Development Intern
“This year was the first time I tried mountain biking. Participating in the men’s novice cross-country race at Hot Day at Otway was a fun way to show off my new-found skills with people of all ages. I really felt like part of the mountain biking community. Overall, an awesome event.”
Shaylyn, Local Government Intern
“I had never been to ArtsWells before this year. It was great to see people of all ages enjoying the variety of music and art. As someone who grew up in Quesnel, it was fantastic to discover that such a vibrant community event existed just next door! I’ll definitely go again.”
In its first year, 62 individual events have received grants through the Fabulous Festivals and Events program. These grants are unique in that they can be used for anything. These 62 projects represent an investment of more than $150,000 from Atlin to Lillooet. The combined value of these project budgets are more than $4.8 million dedicated to tourism attraction, resident retention and good old-fashioned fun.
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