Rainy, cool weather may have kept some folks away from Trail’s Silver City Days celebration this year — but it hasn’t dampened the spirit of city council’s lead on the project.
“It was a tremendous success,” says Coun. Sandy Santori. “It was financially successful, and the event was self-sustaining with revenue from the midway, food kiosks and sponsors.”
Council received the financial results of the annual May event at its meeting on Monday. According to the figures submitted to council, the event received $64,071 in revenue, and had $72,888 in expenses. While on paper that means the event lost $8,817 this year, Santori says the numbers can be misleading.
“That’s accounting for the use of city labour and rental of city facilities,” says Santori.
Since that’s money the city is paying itself, “it’s not additional money that we’re getting from taxpayers in order to put on the fair,” he explained.
Santori says the festival actually made more money this year from its cut of the midway sales, paid less for set up, and had sponsors cover the cost of individual events tied to the festival.
“We exceeded revenue from last year and we reduced expenditures from year before,” he told the Trail Times. “We raised enough to pay for events we wanted to bring into the community.”
Santori said the public reaction to this year’s event, despite the rain, has been positive.
“People were very impressed by the entertainment we had, the reasonable cost at the midway, and, for example, the addition of the spaghetti eating contest, which has not been done for 20 years — it was a tremendous hit.
“All in all, it’s been very successful over two years, and for becoming self-sustaining, which was our objective to start with.”
He says Silver City Days is turning into a kind of homecoming festival for Trail families.
“We’ve created an event where not only local people, but family members are coming back from Kelowna, from Kamloops, or Calgary, they’re making it a family trip, coming back home to be with family and friends.”
Santori added the governance structure has also worked well for the event, and they don’t plan to change it significantly next year. He said having different organizations focus on one event or activity, instead of having a single committee being responsible for everything, is key to avoiding volunteer burnout.
“What we attempted to do, we basically tried to apply a structure like the B.C. Summer Games or Winter Games, which Trail has hosted before,” he said. “The secret is networking with large groups that have an interest in one area- like how minor hockey did a fantastic job with the three-on-three tournament, or the Colombo Lodge’s bocce tournament — and not asking half a dozen people to do 20 things for a week.”
Santori says the goal is to continue to build the event in a sustainable way. The city’s $40,000 grant for the event wasn’t used this year, and part of that will be set aside annually to help pay for a big musical act to come to town every four or five years. They’ll also build more corporate and community sponsorships, and continue to work with city staff for marketing and public works.
The Passeggiata, or stroll along the river and Skywalk, also proved very popular. He thinks it could be spun off as a separate summer or fall event.
Santori says everything looks good for the 2018 Silver City Days, which will have a mix of new events and continuing favourites.
But ultimately, he says “the event will continue to focus on family, and focus on the community.”