Trail council will take the bull by the horns next month and decide the future of a major Silver City event.
For the last 13 years, the city has taken the lead role to produce the Kootenay Chrysler Bull-a-Rama, but declining tickets sales and increasing costs to run the one-day show has bucked the event far into the red.
Fewer tickets sold hitched to a 32 per cent decline in liquor sales during the April 26 bull riding competition had city council reviewing the event’s sustainability during the summer months.
Trisha Davison, the city’s parks and recreation director, presented restructuring options to council during the Sept. 8 governance meeting, and suggested that Trail continue to support the Bull-a-Rama as a facilitator, and not as its direct producer.
Meaning, the city could pass the reins to a new event promoter, including content, volunteers, raising of funds and admission prices – and take part by providing indirect services such as clean up, crowd control, and planning advice.
Being an event facilitator does come with challenges, noted Davison, adding that regardless of how much involvement the city has, the event is a direct reflection of Trail.
Over the last 14 years, the city’s total expense nears $910,000, confirmed David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer.
“If council looked at it in the context of trying to reduce expenditures, it would seem this event has sort of seen its day as no longer sustainable in terms of revenue versus expense,” he said.
Someone else would have to take the risks associated with the event, Perehudoff continued, but there would be an indication or expectation that the city would be propping it up because full severance would be difficult.
“Time has come for council to make a firm and final decision and move forward with it,” he added.
The Bull-a-Rama has given non-profit groups the opportunity to raise about $250,000, conceded Perehudoff, mentioning that it’s important to look at the flip side of the equation.
“While the money received by the not-for-profits is clearly a benefit to these groups,” he explained. “If the city did not sponsor the entire event directly, there could be considerably more money available to disburse directly to community with a demonstrated financial need.”
Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson maintains the Bull-a-Rama is important to the city and community, noting that many of the non-profits wouldn’t exist without the fundraising event.
“We are trying to keep this event alive and would like to present our case, realizing it gives a lot back to the community,” said Gattafoni Robinson, a longtime Bull-a-Rama committee member. “We are working diligently to reproduce something new with different numbers.”
Trail council agreed to defer a decision until early October, allowing the event’s committee time to review structuring options and an opportunity to present proposed changes.