Free fireworks are always a big hit at Griz Days.

Free fireworks are always a big hit at Griz Days.

Chamber makes its case for Griz Days 2021

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is committed to making Griz Days happen, but is looking for city support

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce requested the City of Fernie formalize its contribution for the 2021 Griz Days winter festival.

In a presentation to a Committee of the Whole meeting this week, chamber executive Brad Parsell laid out what the next Griz Days would look like, and what it wouldn’t.

All events planned are being designed to meet current public health requirements, and Parsell said that “what you won’t see is anything that attracts more than 50 people.”

Events to return under the current proposal are the Extreme Griz Competition, Griz Pins (with reduced numbers due to reduced opportunities to sell in person), appearances from the Griz himself, wood carving and snow sculptures as well as a fireworks display which Parsell said would likely be larger.

Satellite events will also be coming back (at the chamber’s discretion), while Fernie Alpine Resort will play a part.

Events that won’t be back are the pub crawl, parade, beer garden, live music, lumberjack show (basically most events associated with downtown street closures) and the Dummy Downhill.

Parsell added that there was “no interest in incorporating a virtual music concert” as part of Griz Days 2021.

“The feeling around the community is that that’s definitely been played out a little bit.”

The chamber, which is the key driver and organizer of Griz Days is 100 per cent behind ensuring the festival goes ahead despite the challenges of the pandemic, said Parsell, who said the chamber is now well-versed in pivoting events to function under the public health requirements of the pandemic.

Despite this, financial considerations are front of mind for the chamber, with members of the business organization doing it tough, Parsell said the chamber was expecting corporate sponsorship of the event to be as much as 50 per cent less than in a usual year.

Normally, Griz Days carries a price tag of $50,000 – of which 50 per cent comes from corporate sponsors and 20 per cent from the City of Fernie.

“Knowing whether the City will contribute the usual $10k is critical to our planning,” said Parsell. “With an estimated budget of $30,000 to deliver a modified Griz Days in 2021 – the City of Fernie partnership would represent a third of total funding.”

Councillors voted to direct staff to bring a report to council on formalizing a partnership between the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fernie for the next three years, with the particulars of the city’s financial contribution to be discussed when that report is voted on.

City staff expressed support for the festival.

Questions and comments from councillors included queries on safety and security given the normal popularity of the festival, and the limits on numbers imposed by the province. In response, Parsell said that “safety of our community is our number one priority,” explaining that there would be lots of virtual events and no large events in person.

READ MORE: Griz Days to go ahead in 2021, will ‘look different’: Chamber
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