Morinville Festival Society updates Council on plans

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Morinville Director of Community Services – Kerry Dawson (left) – talks to Morinville Festival Society members prior to the Jan. 22 Council meeting. Community Services will be partnering with the festival group to expand the annual Family Day Festival this February. – Morinville News Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – The Morinville Festival Society will have a little freer rein on how to allocate $35,000 in funding from the Town of Morinville after a 30-minute presentation to Council Jan. 22.

Festival Society Chair Paul Smith brought his committee members to Council Chambers Tuesday night to show off their new January Festival referee jerseys and to introduce the committee and explain their roles, but the main focus of the visit was to get some direction on whether or not some of the allocated funds could be used for other festivals.

Smith had previously come to Council during 2013 budget talks to ask for $100,000 to fund four festivals this year. The idea was dead on arrival with a Council who ultimately opted to continue funding the festival group $35,000 for the annual St. Jean Baptiste Festival as well as another roughly $10,000 in in-kind support.

In addition to the annual St. Jean Baptiste Festival in June, The Morinville Festival Society is planning another three festivals this year, one of which takes place this weekend and another is set to take place over the Family Day weekend in February. The third is planned for the fall.

“The Town has been really great about partnering with us,” Smith said, adding the upcoming Family Day Festival will include a family dance, street hockey, street curling, ice sculptures as well as the other Town- and community-run events that have formed the backbone of the event in previous years. “There’s a whole Sports Sunday where we are going to bring in some lights, a DJ, and make it a cool event.”

Smith said he wanted to get a sense as to whether or not Council was behind the other festivals the group has planned, if not financially at least in spirit, and to see if there was a little wiggle room in using some of the $35,000 for the other three events.

Mayor Paul Krauskopf and his fellow councillors expressed their support and appreciation for what the committee has done for the community, but many took the time to explain why Smith’s original $100,000 request was not approved.

“We know you’ve done a great job with SJB in the past,” said Councillor Sheldon Fingler. “It’s not that we have lack of desire for your vision or lack of desire for your group. There’s only so much money in the pot.”

Several councillors echoed similar sentiments while supporting the group’s work, but Smith explained he’d come to get some direction on utilizing what money had been given to his group.

“Singing the praises is one thing, but if we could spread some of the funding over all the festivals would be good,” Smith said, adding the group would like the freedom to se as much as $5,000 of the funding as seed money for the other festivals.

Councillor Lisa Holmes said the reason Council was so specific on how the money was to be allocated was to ensure the annual summer festival was not diminished in any way. That position softened among Council members throughout the presentation after learning the committee had no intention of weakening the summer festival to prop up the others..

“I think the understanding and trust is there,” Holmes said, adding she was comfortable with simply granting the money to the festival committee because profits from the events go back into the pot to fund and grow the festivals. “In the end you will use $35,000 of the Town’s money on SJB. We have developed a trust with your committee and this is a way for us to show it.”

The $35,000 is to be paid to the group Feb. 1 and they will now be able to distribute the funding to support the various festivals planned for 2013.

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