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City covers part of Bear Creek Folk Festival debt

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The Bear Creek Folk Festival received $50,000 from the city of Grande Prairie to hack off some of their debt. After coming out of the first event with a shortfall just over $100,000, they asked the city for 100,000 but only got the support for half.

Festival Producer Sarah Card explains the shortfall wasn’t a surprise.

“We are currently working really hard to offset the rest of that. None of this is unexpected. It is definitely growing pains for the event and we are going to work through it.”

She adds that they do plan to keep the event as large as it was this year because it put Grande Prairie on the map. Card explains that they wanted to make a statement in the first year of the event which brought the $1-million budget.

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“There wasn’t any going over budget per se. We just didn’t quite make the mark on attendance. If we had 350 more people per day buy day passes and a drink or two, we could have broken even.”

Although Councillor Jackie Clayton thought it was a great event, she did not support the money request because she thinks the organization needs to be fiscally responsible. Councillor Helen Rice supported both the original ask of $100,000 and the second motion of just $50,000 but with a stipulation that the organization wouldn’t be coming back to ask for more money next year.

People on social media have been comparing this ask to that of the Grande Prairie Storm and Grande Prairie and District SPCA. Mayor Bill Given says it is fair for the community to ask about how the city supports different groups.

“Each of the organizations has a slightly different nuance and impact on the community. That is why the decisions have had a slight different tone to them.”

He adds that forgiving the Storm of $89,000 was an economic decision while not giving the SPCA a chunk of the $200,000 they asked for was about liability and risk. Given thinks the reason the festival received the support from council was due to the reputation it was building for the city and its economic impact.

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