SUMMERSIDE – The rebranding of the Summerside Lobster carnival and a change in focus drew large crowds to many of the events, organizers say.
The inaugural Summerside Lobster Festival lived up to its billing as a community, family event, according to executive director Don Quarles.
“I was really pleased that there were a lot of families down at Green Shore,” he said. “Things like the sandcastle building and the bouncy castles, there were a lot of things for kids down there. I liked the waterfront location. It really lends itself for a backdrop to an event.”
Quarles said he would hope to see more vendors at Green Shore for future festivals but the city was trying to ensure that there weren’t things taken away from what was going on on Water Street with the 2014 celebrations.
“The thing that makes me happiest is families were out,” he said. “Part of what I would like to look at are ways that I can, not only keep the kids occupied, but keep the parents happy while the kids are occupied. Whether it’s food and beverage or a place to sit and enjoy the waterfront while you’re watching your kids. There are a lot of things parents can do.”
Quarles said the parade was a success. Over 5,000 people attended the event he but said more changes are needed to improve it.
“I was quite pleased with the parade, even though we didn’t have the greatest weather,” he said. “The weather really played a role. In terms of the parade, even though we had lots of entries, I would like to see more strict guidelines around entries and qualifications. That’s something comes with growth.”
The beach volleyball event drew 52 teams and Quarles sees potential for growth in that event.
“That could probably be doubled next year,” he said. “There were teams out of Nova Scotia that didn’t even know about it. There are things like this that I’m hoping are going to build. There were a lot of distractions there this year. There were a lot of things going on. I actually like that. People had several options.”
One attraction that was eliminated from the festival was the midway.
Quarles said there were complaints prior to the festival but none afterwards.
“We did (have complaints) before the event but I haven’t heard one comment after the event that they had missed it,” he said. “It could be that those people chose just not to show up. Some of the parents and kids that had traditionally gone to the midway might have gone to evening movies or down to do things down on Green Shore.”
Quarles said he has his own personal list of the pros and cons about the festival “and I’ve got a really long list of pros.”
The executive director said there will be changes coming to future festivals.
“I would more carefully program any entertainment,” he said. “I knew there was entertainment going on at Chautauqua (for 2014 celebrations). I would make sure that there weren’t conflicts.”
He suggested there be planned gaps to allow people to go from one venue to another.
“I’m one of those people that if I’m in line for an event at a festival I’m going to check the line-up for the next few acts before I go somewhere else,” he said. “I would be conscious that people aren’t conflicted about what to go to – that there’s actually a logical flow. That’s something you sort of live and learn.”
Quarles said over 5,000 dishes were served during the Go Lobster campaign and that event is certain to draw greater participation next year.
“We’re creating an online survey through the social media so people can offer their input because it is a community festival,” he said. “I really want to ensure that everybody feels like they’ve had input.”