The Summerside Lobster Carnival has been around for more than half a century and has had its ups and downs. This year marks the 58th anniversary of the carnival and its future iS in question.
It was initiated by the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce, along with the then Town of Summerside. In the mid ‘90s the city opted out and it was taken over by five service groups.
Each group would take an event as a fundraiser for its work and involve volunteers from their organization to maDe the event the best it could be.
Now only two of those groups remain, the Summerside Rotary Club and the Summerside Legion. They are the owners of the carnival.
The Rotary Club and the legion make significant profits from carnival over the years, approximately $10,000 per year, but revenues have dropped considerably. Last year each group received just $3,000.
Rotarians are now questioning their involvement in being responsible for the lobster carnival. Some say the city should take it over and have the Rotary, other service clubs and organizations support it.
Rotarian and former lobster carnival president Vance Bridges said if Rotary can’t get back to the $10,000 revenue mark their involvement isn’t worth the effort.
Is the Summerside Lobster Carnival strictly a fundraising exercise for the Rotary Club and the legion or is it a celebration? As carnival president Rev. Arthur Davies says, “It shows the heart of Summerside. It shows a sense of community. It shows the sense of caring and sharing for one another and it opens the door to visitors in a way that’s like nothing else.” Or is it both?
If money is the ultimate goal of carnival then those involved should consider hiring a fulltime co-ordinator whose job would be to work year-round arranging the event. Make it a full-fledged, high profile, all encompassing festival.
The position could be funded by the city or by the several service organizations and tourism related groups in Summerside.
But in doing this is the “sense of community” lost in the production of the event? Is that hometown feeling and display of community pride sacrificed for “the big show?”
It can be both but it is going to take the combined effort of everyone, the Rotary Club, the legion, the chamber of commerce, Downtown Summerside, Tourism Summerside, local businesses, service groups and the city.
It needs the community to join hands and work for two common goals-community pride and support for area service groups through the revenue generated.