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Stompede, Folk Festival again looking for tourism funding

There are two local events vying for Large Scale Tourism Events Funding from the City of Grande Prairie this year. Both the Bear Creek Folk Festival and the Grande Prairie Stompede are again looking for a piece of the $200,000 fund.

The city initially got four applications but saw the East Coast Garden Party withdraw after it was cancelled, along with the Grande Prairie Children’s Festival due to changes to the criteria. Applications are accepted for festivals and sporting events that attract at least 35 per cent of their audience from places more than 100 kilometres away.

Preference is also given to events less than five years old. This year was the 41st for the Grande Prairie Stompede, but after losing $360,000 in revenue in 2016, president Trevor Dennis says they need the support.

“Without grants like this, it’s hard for us to not only sustain our show but in order to grow it. When we grow it there’s more people and more activities and more events and more people attend, so it’s very important.”

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The Stompede has asked for $75,000, after getting $50,000 in 2017. Treasurer Bernie Benson, who is also the mayor’s executive assistant and the first ever Stompede Queen from 1979, says they have been working to find ways to keep the event exciting over the past four decades.

“Money like this will allow us to grow our show with some of these new ideas. The younger people coming on our board have some really, really good ideas.”

She also notes they need to have a contingency budget for contract negotiations with the World Professional Chuckwagon Association, the Western Chuckwagon Association, and the All Pro Canadian Chuckwagon & Chariot Association.

This year will be the third for the Bear Creek Festival, which runs August 17th to 19th in Muskoseepi Park. It’s looking for $100,000 for the second year in a row, and if successful, promoter Sarah Card says they may be able to break even this year.

“That’s always the hope and it definitely does seem quite possible. There’s no guarantees in this business; it’s going to really come down to tickets sales; it can come down to weather; it’s going to come down to a lot of things but this has been a very strong year for us in terms of public support and getting more grants.”

Card says they’ve worked down a debt of more than a couple hundred thousand dollars in October 2017 to around $19,000. They’ve also received a $75,000 grant from the Alberta government and $20,000 from the County of Grande Prairie and are being heavily supported by the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

“We have been receiving a lot of unsolicited phone calls from sponsors – both local and out of town – interested in becoming part of the event,” says Card, “and we’ve been feeling an overall buzz and excitement and recognition that is beyond what we’ve seen.”

City council will make a decision on both applications for funding at its August 13th meeting.

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