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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.

Organizations: Summerside Rotary Club, Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Summerside

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Recent comments

  • Question?
    February 24, 2013 - 16:47

    Would Mayor Basil Stewart and Deputy Mayor MacDougall please explain to the citizens what Economic Development is and what they do. This department is costing the taxpayers millions of dollars and yet downtown is a ghost town. Where over the last tens years has this department proven to be working. Please tell us. All we see is failed concerts( making no money at all on these events). Gave $1.3 million away due to total mismanagement, now Smart Grid, another pipe dream and yes cannot attract anyone downtown. When the Carnival was here at least the downtown was busy for at least a day.

  • Barbara
    February 24, 2013 - 11:52

    Personally speaking, I love community festivals. I'd love to see the lobster carnival become something more - maybe something called Heritage Days - where lobster is one part, an important part, of an entire summer of festivals for residents and our guests (commonly called tourists). Times change - people are squeezed financially and often work more than one job. Spare time is even more rare. You have to be prepared to give bang for the buck. I don't start a business by saying - hey, I want to make a profit. I start a business by using my skills to produce something or a service that is valued. There is too much of the former and not enough of the latter. Invest our time in our community - it's your home. Your time is the most precious gift you can give - you can't get more of it.

  • Let them go
    February 22, 2013 - 11:11

    Thats what has turned me off the lobster carnival, it became just another business, Has to make money, has to make more money, and more money.... The whole affair became an attempt to part the people from their money and giving poor quality events and junk for it. Until the Carnival becomes a community event to promote and celebrate the community and NOT some big fund raising event for groups with $$$$ in their eyes, You won't find me there.

  • Concerned Taxpayer
    February 22, 2013 - 05:56

    This really upsets me. The Lobster Carnival has been around for fifty years. Always a nice family day activity and certainly something that has attracted thousands of tourist. This present Mayor and City Councillors had better wake up. The wasted money over the last years with the malicious persecution of the past Deputy Chief of Police, the Fiasco Concert vote at a Councillors cottage, Smart Grid, just wasted millions and now crying no money. What an embarrassment to all of Canada. Further, no accountablity to the gross mismanagement. Where is our Forensic Audit? City Council should lead this Lobster Carnival campaign and start spending money wisely( I might add our money, instead of paying Lawyers).