Due to low numbers in the summer of 2014, the Fernie Chamber of Commerce has proposed changing the structure of their annual Sunday Summer Socials and downsizing from eight events to four.
“This is based on feedback from participants in the business community who said they would really enjoy fewer, bigger events,” Fernie Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Patty Vadnais said. “The Summer Social committee really looked at what was happening throughout the summer and since Fernie already has some great events, they decided to focus on those weekends without a major event.”
The newly proposed Sunday Summer Socials would take place on July 19, July 26, August 2 and August 16 and would include Dog Days of Summer combined with Fernie’s Got Fashion, in addition to Sports Day and the annual Show ‘N’ Shine car show.
Vadnais also noted that the chamber has proposed a Wapiti kick-off weekend on August 2 that would include a chili-eating contest, and a station set up for preparing derby vehicles for the annual Fernie Lions’ Demolition Derby held on Labour Day weekend.
During the May 25 council meeting, the city discussed the chamber’s current Summer Social partnering agreement with the city.
Chief Administrative Officer Jim Hendricks noted that the chamber entered into a three year partnering agreement with the city for the Summer Socials at a yearly budget of $15,000.
With the cancellation of four Sunday events, Hendricks proposed that the funding for the agreement be amended.
Vadnais, however, said, “The hope was that the funding would stay the same but it would just allow us to do more promotion [for the events].”
She also highlighted that the regularly scheduled Wednesday Summer Socials take up $6,000 of the $15,000 budget.
In addition to the proposed budget amendment, council brought forward some of their own suggestions for growing the Sunday Summer Social’s downtown traffic.
Amalgamating the Fernie Mountain Market with the Sunday Summer Socials was a proposed solution, as council suggested encouraging traffic from the market to move up to 2nd Avenue.
“I really do think that the panacea is amalgamating the farmer’s market with downtown,” Coun. Jon Levesque said. “We can work towards making it great for everyone.”
Mayor Mary Giuliano also suggested bringing more live music to the Sunday Summer Socials.
“I’ve gone to just about every Sunday Social and the ones that were successful were the ones that had live music,” she reiterated.
Although Vadnais said she was open to these suggestions, she reinforced that the proposal to downsize to four socials was already in the works for 2015.
“We’ve got things in the plan for 2016,” she said. “The chamber’s really excited to host the socials this summer. We’re always trying to improve and work on the events.”
Before the city approves maintaining the current $15,000 Sunday Summer Social budget, council requested that Vadnais draft up a budget for this year’s four events.