The Lake Economic and Activity Development committee is pleased with how the Sunfest weekend turned out in Lake Cowichan, and gathered with leadership team members and general volunteers to discuss what worked and what didn’t.
On Aug. 10, the group met at Centennial Hall for a round table discussion of the events of the July long weekend.
Graeme Service facilitated the gathering and set the stage by discussing some of the group’s expectations in the months leading up to Sunfest.
“When we started this adventure we thought Armageddon was coming. We thought we were going to get overrun. So everything we did in the course of all this was based on the thought that we were going to be overrun,” he said. “Quite honestly, it didn’t happen. We all know that. But we were still prepared.”
He said while there is room for improvement, a lot of good came from the weekend, not the least of which was the way LEAD mobilized a large network of volunteers.
Mayor Ross Forrest was present and shared with the group that he did not receive any complaints from community members over the weekend. Katherine Worsley, coordinator of the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, said the visitor centre also did not receive any complaints.
LEAD member Cathy Robertson said the fact there were few-to-no complaints means the word “over-prepared” might not really apply to the group’s activities that weekend, even if there were more volunteers or vendors than necessary.
“It doesn’t sound like you were over-prepared. It sounds like you were fantastically prepared, there just may have been some excess somewhere, and I think that’s a different conversation,” she said.
Some areas for improvement brought up by members included consolidating the various venues, having fewer vendors and developing a greater advertising and communications strategy.
“I suspect two things: a lot of people did not know they had these things available to them,” said Les Bowd, also a member of LEAD’s leadership team. “The second is the demographic that attended Sunfest this year was obviously significantly different than attended Sunfest the last two years.”
He said the group expected a greater proportion of festival-goers to be in the 25-40 age range, as opposed to the 18-25 range.
Some LEAD members noted that many festival-goers either came prepared for the weekend, with all their supplies purchased in advance and no plans to leave their campsites or RVs during the day, or else they were looking to enjoy two things not available at Laketown Ranch: the river and the lake.
One of the small business owners, Bev North, owner of Deep Fried Ice Cream, said her sales were up as a result of Sunfest, even if they weren’t quite as high as she was expecting.
“I did about 20 per cent increase of what I would have done on any end-of-July long weekend with good weather,” she said, adding that she had experienced similar business on a couple other weekends already this summer.
“So it was good, it was wonderful, but it didn’t do what I thought. But 20 per cent is 20 per cent, and if I do 20 per cent this time and 20 per cent the next and 20 per cent the next, well there you go.”
The meeting ended with a cheer from the group and a resolve to incorporate the lessons from this first year of Sunfest at Lake Cowichan into LEAD’s plans for next year.