THUNDER BAY – ENTERTAINMENT – The organizers of Countryfest have issued the following statement on the 2018 Event: With the new year upon us, we’re looking ahead to what 2018 holds for CountryFest. As you know, CountryFest started in 2016 with a small event. Four bands, a smaller stage, 88 campsites and a sign of what’s to come for this new local festival. In 2017, we doubled in size and featured 12 bands, NWO’s largest stage, and camping grew to over 200 sites. Our attendance reached 6,000 over the two-day event and the reviews were all positive. It truly was an amazing weekend.
With the new year upon us, we’re looking ahead to what 2018 holds for CountryFest. As you know, CountryFest started in 2016 with a small event. Four bands, a smaller stage, 88 campsites and a sign of what’s to come for this new local festival. In 2017, we doubled in size and featured 12 bands, NWO’s largest stage, and camping grew to over 200 sites. Our attendance reached 6,000 over the two-day event and the reviews were all positive. It truly was an amazing weekend.
As we look ahead in 2018, we do so with much concern and consideration. As you know, the Murillo Fairgrounds is a perfect location for the event. With access to camping, parking, and space we would be hard-pressed to find a better location. However, with this location, our infrastructure expenses for the event are higher than any other local festival. We literally have to create a concert venue by renting the stage, a generator, sound, and lighting and hiring a large crew to make it all happen. This along with artist fees pushed our festival to over a half million dollars in expenses.
Looking ahead in 2018 and to CountryFest #3, we’ve already been approached by many great artists that we know will deliver an amazing weekend. The buzz in the community and beyond has been significant with many messages and emails asking about the 2018 dates and ticket sales. The opportunity is in front of us, but the risk is great.
In order for festivals of this size to succeed, there has to be supported on many levels. There are many pieces to the puzzle behind the scenes. The event could not happen without the support of the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, with Bob Halverson’s support and his team’s experience and help including Rob Jardine’s coordination of our production needs, the FW Rotary’s support with beverage sales, REP Security and Thunder Bay Police Service and their exceptional work in securing our event and so many others that make the event possible.
Our concern when considering CountryFest #3 is purely financial. This festival is privately owned and operated and the risk falls on a small few, and although we appreciated the sponsorship from many sponsors, we saw a significant financial shortfall that we must carry into 2018. In order to plan for this year, we need to at least triple our financial support from sponsors and local businesses and funders. It is a huge undertaking.
We are currently in the process of hiring a Sponsorship Coordinator to help us find new sponsors and available financial support in order to make CountryFest possible. Sadly, it is difficult to find sponsors interested in supporting a fairly new event and at the same time finding companies that are willing to partner with the event on a long-term basis. We need the support of our community, local business and our patrons to make this event a yearly undertaking.
To date, our concern is that in order to help the event succeed this year, a significant increase in ticket and camping prices would be required without a substantial increase in funding from communities and sponsors. Of course, increased ticket prices could hamper our ability to sell tickets which increases our risk, as artists and rental agreements all require large nonrefundable deposits funded solely by ticket revenue. With that, we are quickly running out of time looking for support from our community and local businesses to help us reach our goal of hosting CountryFest
#3. We require support from our partners in 2016 and 2017, and new partners this year. Sadly, at this time, without this support, this grassroots event with incredible potential could be at risk of being put on hold for 2018.