The Summerside Lobster Festival has laid a solid foundation for bigger and better things in the future.
One of the critical goals of the revamped lobster carnival was to create the idea that the festival is a community celebration, offering activities and opportunities for full family participation while still staging specialized events.
The idea caught on.
Organizers capitalized on one of Summerside’s biggest attraction – its waterfront.
Green Shore was a hub of activity for families with a kids fun zone which included bouncy castles and bubble soccer. There were areas for building sand castles and movie nights and entertainment.
Over 5,000 people attended the parade and the beach volleyball tournament on Water Street drew 52 teams. Then there was the Go Lobster promotion, a new event that was well received.
There were glitches, as there always is when something new is attempted. But given the time frame organizers had to stage the event, only about six months, those shortcomings area acceptable.
Now, it’s time to raise the bar.
Festival executive director Don Quarles has a full year to plan and organize the 2015 event and there are areas that need to be addressed.
Scheduling is an issue that needs to be looked at.
This year gave organizers a challenge because of the 2014 Celebration events that were being held during the festival.
Both events offered entertainment and there were occasions where there were conflicts when popular artists were entertaining at the same time.
A way of avoiding this would be to schedule down times or gaps between performances so the public can take in as many of the acts as possible.
The parade needs work. More music, whether it be marching bands or entertainment from floats would go a long way.
The committee needs to take a serious look at the type of floats that will be permitted in the parade. It should eliminate the self-serving, undecorated vehicle that is nothing more than an advertisement for a business.
A serious ad campaign for the festival needs to be developed to get the word out to other Maritime Provinces to not only draw visitors but participants as well.
Case in point – the beach volleyball tournament had 52 teams but according to Quarles, the committee heard from Nova Scotia volleyball enthusiasts that they would have taken part if they had know in advance that the competition was being held.
These issues are easily rectified, but the biggest challenge that Quarles and his committee have is having the public accept the festival as a community event and take ownership of it.
It appears that groundwork was laid, especially with the events at Green Shore.
But the committee is taking it a step further and putting out a survey to the public through social media for their thoughts and input into the event.
As Quarles said, “I really want to ensure that everybody feels like they’ve had input.”
Here’s a chance for the public to get involved. People should take advantage of it.