The city’s move to take over the ownership and operation of the Summerside Lobster Carnival is a good one.
Years ago, the annual Summerside Lobster Carnival was largely taken care of by five local service groups: the Lions Club, the Kinsmen Club, the Rotary Club, the Y's Men's Club and the Summerside Legion.
Members of these groups volunteered to do everything from serving as parking lot attendants to serving up lobster dinners. There never seemed to a shortage of people to do the many tasks involved with mounting the annual carnival. But over the years, membership has declined, and the work has fallen to fewer members and those members have continued to age. Even with the loss of the agricultural exhibition and the Miss P.E.I. pageant, the carnival was still a significant event, yet needed an infusion of new events to continue to grow.
The legion and Rotary continued their commitment to the lobster carnival for several years but now both have resigned.
The city is looking to hire a permanent executive director for lobster carnival to bring new life to the traditional festival.
But there is one concern that came out following council’s decision to hire an executive director.
When the proposal was first made by Councillor Tina Mundy, it was suggested any profits made by the lobster carnival would be used as seed money for future carnivals. This would be a means of growing the event year after year.
But Councillor Jim Steele, chairman of the city’s community services committee, said this would not be the case.
“The profits, if there were profits, would go back into the city coffers and we’d be able to distribute those back to community services areas such as the Boys and Girls Club or Generation XX. We’re hoping to bring them on board to be able to take some of these funds back. The other part is we’re hoping the lobster carnival executive director (position), with sponsorship coming in, would be able to stabilize itself where it can perform in paying for that person.”
When asked about the profits remaining with carnival to be used as seed money for the following year’s event, Steele said, “We’re not interested in that part of it. We want to bring the money back to the community. It’s a community event. It draws in 10,000 people. It's all economic development for the city.”
If council is serious about revamping lobster carnival, the profits made should stay with the carnival and not funneled into city coffers. It only makes sense to use the profits to enhance the event.