Silver City Days fireworks are up in the air, and more so this year.
The popular Saturday night fireworks display is in danger of being extinguished from the festival, which opens May 8-13, after Trail city council slashed Trail Festival Society’s $35,000 budget by one third to $22,500.
The loss of operating revenue meant the society had to ask some hard questions in its final organizational meeting last Wednesday, said society president Ian McLeod, and one was whether to continue with the festival at all as it nears its fifth decade of existence.
After serving the festival for 28 years, and 12 as president, McLeod said securing funding for the venerable festival has become too much of a struggle.
“It’s all an 11th-hour thing with the (city) council. You get right down to it and there’s always something that crops up,” he said Sunday. “But every year we make it work because we are doing it for the community.”
Heading in to the meeting Wednesday the city’s largest annual festival was close to being cancelled, he noted, with “a lot of the directors ready to throw in their papers” and quit.
“That would have killed it,” said McLeod. “We could have pulled the plug as easily as kept it going. And, in reality, if we have to keep fighting like we did, it won’t keep going.”
Which would mean cancellation of a week-long festival featuring rides, live entertainment and around 10,000 people coming into the city for the event.
The money from the city is used to pay for the entertainment, the fireworks, the setup and the infrastructure (washrooms, cleanup) needed for the event. Although the society requested more money for the festival budget this year, city council ended up delivering a budget cut.
In order to cover the entire $12,500 budget cut, it was proposed at the society meeting that the Saturday parade be axed along with the fireworks — which cost around $10,000 — that would save a further $2,500.
But one of the people on the society’s board stepped up with the money to allow the parade to continue, said McLeod, the same fellow who was city council’s liaison with the society, councilor Sean Mackinlay.
He was not available for comment Sunday, however in an Friday, April 20 email to the Trail Times, Mackinlay said there will be a meeting Tuesday to decide the fireworks’ fate.
He confirmed in the email there was a decision to cancel the fireworks, but documentation requested from the society months ago to show usage of funds was only recently brought forward — and that from the fire department.
“(We) will be meeting on April 24th to explore specifically funding this event,” Mackinlay wrote in the email. “More information allows council to make the best and most informed decisions for any request put forth to council.”
If people still want the fireworks there is still time to save them, said McLeod.
“I suggest they get on the phone to city hall and let them know,” he said.
The festival at the Esplanade on Spokane Street includes live entertainment on the main stage as well as the Gyro Casino spinning the wheel.
There are also food vendors and shopping booths open for business, the AM Ford Bocce Classic, the parade, the bartender contest and the Trail and Warfield citizen of the year ceremony at St. Michael’s School gymnasium.
Family Fun Day at Gyro Park on Sunday will be back, as will the Miss Trail competition, who will be crowned Friday night at the Charles Bailey Theatre.