by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent

The Morinville Festival Society (MFS) have kicked off their annual fundraising drive to raise money for Morinville’s popular summertime festival.

For years, the event has operated as the St. Jean Baptiste (SJB) Festival. However, this year it will simply be referred to as Festival Days.

MFS had to change the weekend on which the Festival will occur to secure a midway, explained Korien Sampson, MFS President, in an interview. “…Now [the festival] will always happen on the third week in June. That takes it away from the actual day known as St. Jean Baptiste Day. It just felt wrong to continue to call it SJB Festival when it’s not on the actual day anymore.”

Sampson said last year the SJB Festival went ahead without a midway, which proved to be a flop.

Looking to start fresh, said Sampson, MFS has adopted not only a new name but also, a new set of sponsorship packages. The price to purchase sponsorship has gone down.

“We want to have as much community involvement in the festival as possible,” noted Sampson. “That was one of the reasons we altered the sponsorship packages, so anyone who wants to can help support Festival Days.” Sponsorship starts as low as $25.

Sampson said MFS is approaching all businesses in town, as well as some outside of Morinville’s boundaries. In total, the group said Festival Days would cost them about $84,000; from that amount, the Society is hoping to fundraise $50,000.

The Town of Morinville is sponsoring MFS and has committed to covering $18,500 (the same amount as last year), plus in-kind donations. Revenue will also be raised by admissions, a change that was brought in by the Society last year, and one that will continue in 2017.

“The cost is $5 for a wristband, which will cover you for the entire weekend,” said the MFS President, who warned if you pay on Friday, for example, but don’t have your wristband on anymore on Sunday, you’ll have to repurchase entry to the grounds. Sampson indicated a certain number of wristbands would be reserved at no cost for low-income families.

The Festival will once again be fenced, as a way to capture how many people are attending Festival Days. Last year, as many as 3,000 people came through the gates, remarked Sampson; she believes with the return of the midway, this year’s Festival may potentially see a higher number of entries.

Festival Days will continue to offer the same events people from Morinville have come to expect over the years, which includes: firefighter challenge, parade, show n’ shine, children’s pavilion, and the farmer’s market. MFS is also organizing a lumberjack championship event for the Festival.

In addition to sponsorship and event planning, MFS said it is also already hoping to recruit volunteers for Festival Days. Volunteer opportunities include working at the Children’s Pavillon or the gates, in the beer garden, or in the food court (among other things). People of all ages are encouraged to contact MFS to learn more about volunteer positions.

Festival Days is occurring in Morinville on the weekend of June 16 to 18.

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