Jack Frost Festival appears to be on ice

Dave Stewart
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Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee checks his notes as Roy Main, CAO for the City of Charlottetown, reads a motion to be voted on during the regular meeting of council Monday.

The Jack Frost Children's Festival is all but dead for 2013, barring an organization coming forward at the last minute to take on the financial risk.

That was the word from Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee on Monday night.

Lee told The Guardian that no one has come forward yet to take over the ownership of the event.

"My suggestion at this stage is that Jack Frost probably is not going to happen,'' Lee said. "Nothing has changed since the last time we talked (in late November). Nobody has come forward to own the Jack Frost Festival.''

The city had been in talks with one private firm but that firm pulled out when it saw the financial risk it was taking on.

The festival was launched nine years ago to fill a void in Charlottetown's tourism season. It also helped fill hotel rooms considering 60 per cent of those who bought tickets were coming from out of province. Approximately 14,000 people attended last year.

It was a festival that pumped about $3 million into the local economy.

Problems began when Tourism Charlottetown, the organization that owned the festival, disbanded last year. It morphed into Discover Charlottetown but the new organization has washed its hands of getting involved with events like Jack Frost because the event consistently lost money. The festival budget was around $500,000.

Lee said the city will attempt to fill the void left by the festival, but on a much, much smaller scale.

"I would suggest that perhaps a committee of council should look at trying to create a community event for February for around the same time period as Jack Frost and Islander Day.

"When I say community event, I'm talking about something that local kids and parents can enjoy the outdoors with but that's a suggestion at this point and time to council.''

Lee expects some councillors won't be happy with an alternative event.

"I suspect there will be two or three people on council who won't like the idea and will not support it. We'll see what happens with the other seven or eight (councillors).''

Lee says the city will not formally announce Jack Frost is cancelled because the municipality never ran the event.

"We're operating under the assumption Jack Frost is not going to happen.''

Lee said a new 'community event' would probably be created by public works and parks and recreation. Unlike Jack Frost, a city-run event would be free.

The city contributed $25,000 on an annual basis to Jack Frost but was not prepared to pay a whole lot more, even with financial help from other sources, such as sponsors and government.

"We need to know our costs up front,'' Lee said, explaining that factors such as weather often drove the cost of the festival much higher than was budgeted.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: The Guardian

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • SAP
    December 11, 2012 - 14:18

    I just can't figure out why none of the businesses that made out so well from this festival(so we've been told) haven't picked up the ball. If it was indeed such a boon for winter tourism, surely someone will want it to keep going. Or is it only good if the taxpayers fund it for them? Doesn't add up to me.

  • not surprised
    December 11, 2012 - 12:00

    what a shame, could have tested out their new "Festival site" downtown. Would have been a great spot to have the sculptures, slides, and place to store the snow and the parking and they could have closed off the streets. Could have had trails through the Ghiz park to the rink for the rest of the events, some real potential. But no, let's put money into the 2014 festival that won't have anyone attending. Boy this province is backwards.

    • huh
      December 11, 2012 - 13:34

      Why would there be no one attending the 2014 festival?

  • Tom
    December 11, 2012 - 10:08

    Sad!........ The province and City should have did a better job for the transition to a new governing body. This is a real black eye to not have it this year. Shame.

  • Sheldon
    December 11, 2012 - 09:40

    Sorry FRUSTRATED,Ghiz has the Island broke now with over a 2 billion dollar defesit and besides that he needs any extra dollars for his Liberal buddies and to buy Cars for Politicians.

    • ULALIAH
      December 11, 2012 - 09:55

      SHELDON... The deficit is $80 Million Dollars, (no small number). The debt is $2 Billion Dollars.

  • Marie
    December 11, 2012 - 08:02

    Baaaahhhh Humbug Scrooge Lee

  • Herman
    December 11, 2012 - 08:01

    See what happens Clifford when your city drives all the event organizers away over the years. Your the only one to blame in this whole story. When is the next election again?

  • don
    December 10, 2012 - 22:14

    well anyone who went to the jack frost you have no one to blame but tourism ch'town and there so called 2 companies they started just to get PNP. now that the money is gone they give up the event. and to look at the city council they are the main people of the event. so to me tourism ch'town people should get there PINK SLIPS. but i guess they have to many big names on there to fire. again PATRONAGE in city hall same as the provisional government.to they are a disgrace to PEI.

  • frustrated
    December 10, 2012 - 21:50

    What a shame!!! This was so popular with everyone. Why won't Ghiz contribute something to get this great event back up and running??????

  • intobed
    December 10, 2012 - 21:29

    If the J.F. Festival put $3 million into the economy, what were the types of businesses where this money was spent. If the cost of the festival was only around $500,000 or even $600,000 this would still be a five or six fold increase in income vs. expenses. Why can't the businesses get together and pay for it? Why should our tax dollars pay for some of this festival, and then we have to pay again to participate while the businesses make a good profit?