Centrefest is going ahead in Red Deer this summer, Fiestaval is not

Changes in store for Red Deer’s downtown events

Fiestaval is quitting Red Deer due to a lack of funding support, but Centrefest and some smaller events are still running downtown this summer.

The summer Latin music festival that originated in Calgary was first launched in Red Deer in 2010. But it didn’t run last year and has no plans to return.

Organizer Christian Greiffensdein said he’s grateful for past support Fiestaval received from the City of Red Deer and Downtown Business Association, but these financial contributions tapered off in recent years and “it wasn’t enough to make it work.”

Although he was satisfied with public response to the free festival, he estimates about $30,000 would be needed to pull off an event involving a lineup of bands, beer garden and vendor spaces.

Greiffensdein maintains the City of Calgary and Calgary businesses do strongly support Fiestaval in that city. Not only does the event get direct funding from these bodies but isn’t charged for services — such as blocking off streets. In Red Deer, the city does charge for municipal services.

If Red Deer wants to become as a vibrant, multicultural place, it needs to “change its attitude” and support more cultural events, said Greiffensdein.

A city spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Friday.

But Dawn Romanuik, the Downtown Business Association’s event’s co-ordinator, suggested it’s unfair to compare Red Deer’s resources to those of a city 12 times its size.

The Downtown Business Association doesn’t have the budget to financially help festivals indefinitely, she added. “We try to take events under our wings to help them find what they need to be sustainable… so they can fly on their own.”

Romaniuk said this includes helping with grant application, advertising, social media etc.

The city’s largest downtown festival, Centrefest, is still set to run July 29 and 30. Organizer Janice Shimek said the “exciting” 2017 festival will feature 10 Canadian street performers, who are returning to their native land from all over the world, to entertain for Canada’s 150th birthday.

Centrefest doesn’t receive funding any more from the Downtown Business Association, but it did receive federal, provincial and city grants that still don’t cover total festival costs.

A Benefit on the Bridge for Centrefest — featuring outdoor dancing and music by the Overdue Blues Band — is planned for Saturday, May 27 on the pedestrian former CP Rail bridge at Riverlands. Tickets are $30 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

Shimek is also looking for other fundraising ideas, since one of Centrefest’s biggest corporate sponsors isn’t planning to continue its funding next year. For more information, please call her at 403-505-6094.

– Here are some smaller events planned for Downtown Red Deer this summer with help from the Downtown Business Association:

May 31 – 1950s Shop Hop, involving business workers dressed in vintage style, with “fun specials, cars and music.”

June 2 – Rumrunner Scavenger Hunt to benefit the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra happens all over the downtown (www.rdso.ca)

June 4 – Hudson’s Heart fundraiser for Calgary’s Stollery Children’s Hospital on Little Gaetz, with tattoo-ing offerred from Classic Tattoos and other outdoor activities planned.

– The Ross Street Patio with Wednesday evening (and some Friday night city-run) music as well as lunch-time concerts on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

– Cruise Nights with classic cars displays downtown on the third Wednesday of the month.

– Wednesday evening farmer’s markets

– Two “Parklets,” or small outdoor spaces will run. One is designed with a small music stage outside of Ten Thousand Villages, and one for games play, outside of the International Beer Haus.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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