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How back-to-back Cavendish festivals impacted P.E.I. businesses and residents

CAVENDISH, P.E.I. — Native companies and residents in P.E.I.’s Resort Municipality expressed numerous ranges of affect from the 2 back-to-back weekend concert events final month – Cavendish Seashore Music Pageant (CBMF) and Sommo Pageant. 

Margaret McEachern, the proprietor of Knit Pickers in Mayfield, spoke up throughout a public assembly held by the Resort Municipality on July 31. The assembly was held to obtain suggestions on the festivals and options from residents of Stanley Bridge, Hope River, Bayview, Cavendish and North Rustico.  

Margaret McEachern, the owner of Knit Pickers in Mayfield, spoke at the meeting about the impact of back-to-back festivals on local businesses including her own. - Thinh Nguyen/SaltWire
Margaret McEachern, the proprietor of Knit Pickers in Mayfield, spoke on the assembly in regards to the affect of back-to-back festivals on native companies together with her personal. – Thinh Nguyen/SaltWire

She runs knitting workshops and noticed regular progress yearly, typically having sold-out workshops earlier than CBMF, McEachern stated. Nonetheless, the artisan noticed a sudden drop in the course of the festivals and till the next Friday. 

“Two full weeks, no registrations in anyway. After which, bam, I used to be again to having sold-out workshops,” McEachern advised SaltWire in an interview July 31. 

“Some folks have stated, ‘Oh, it is as a result of softening of the tourism market.’ That is not true. As a result of I used to be having sold-out workshops earlier than and sold-out workshops after. The numbers – due to the back-to-back festivals – have been decrease than they have been throughout COVID.”

On the assembly, different enterprise homeowners raised issues in regards to the timing of the occasions, not simply their proximity. 

Considerations over pageant dates 

Sandi Lowther, owner-operator of Fairways Cottages in Cavendish, stated the 2 festivals’ timing coincided with a peak season for her cottages.  

Apparently, regardless of the CBMF attracting round 60,000 folks and Sommo drawing 20,000 this 12 months, Lowther stated her enterprise didn’t have a single pageant goer.  

It primarily hosted households on week-long stays, whom she refers to as “high-yielding” clients. These households are inclined to spend cash on native sights, thereby benefiting the native financial system. 

Sandi Lowther, owner-operator of Fairways Cottages in Cavendish, spoke at the public meeting held by the Resort Municipality on July 31. - Thinh Nguyen/SaltWire
Sandi Lowther, owner-operator of Fairways Cottages in Cavendish, spoke on the public assembly held by the Resort Municipality on July 31. – Thinh Nguyen/SaltWire

Lowther stated she is worried if the festivals proceed to happen throughout peak seasons, it would push out this group of invaluable clients. 

“If it grew and grew and grew and grew, after which these households are not having a superb time within the vacation spot, it drives them away. So, it prices my firm much more to host short-term stays, will increase all of my enter prices, together with staffing, provides, electrical energy in working the large laundry facility that now we have,” she stated. 

This sentiment was echoed by different lodging suppliers who attended the assembly. 

Lowther stated she is glad to listen to Whitecap Leisure CEO Ben Murphy is receptive to the neighborhood’s issues.  

Resort Municipality Mayor Matthew Jelley and Whitecap Entertainment CEO Ben Murphy address community members’ concerns. - Thinh Nguyen/SaltWire
Resort Municipality Mayor Matthew Jelley and Whitecap Leisure CEO Ben Murphy tackle neighborhood members’ issues. – Thinh Nguyen/SaltWire

Murphy stated the corporate will discover various dates for Sommo that higher align with the neighborhood’s wants.

“The entire course of from final 12 months we talked about is principally allow us to get this pageant off the bottom and show to you that the idea works, which I feel we did this 12 months … after which we’ll see what dates work for the neighborhood. And we will all the time go and modify or take away the dates,” he stated. “I feel that is completely honest.” 

Pageant fencing 

Resort Municipality Mayor Matthew Jelley stated the 2 festivals will be thought of successful, particularly relating to issues like environmental well being and public security – and total, “an excellent 12 months” for the neighborhood. 

“So far as property injury, vandalism, it was definitely one of many cleanest years that we had. And whenever you’re speaking about tens of 1000’s of individuals, I feel it is exceptional that the key takeaway we had was the timing of when the fencing goes up,” Jelley stated. 

That was a difficulty raised by some neighborhood members on the assembly as they discovered the one-kilometre pageant fencing on the north aspect of Route 6 was put up too early. 

The public meeting held at North Rustico Lion's Club saw more than 50 community members attending to share feedback on the two festivals as well as recommendations. - Thinh Nguyen/SaltWire
The general public assembly held at North Rustico Lion’s Membership noticed greater than 50 neighborhood members attending to share suggestions on the 2 festivals in addition to suggestions. – Thinh Nguyen/SaltWire

The fencing went up earlier than the Canada Day lengthy weekend and a couple of week earlier than CBMF, which was a serious factor for the neighborhood to cope with, Jelley stated. 

“It is proper on the white line on the street. So, it’s near site visitors, however the legs of the fencing and that protrude into a few of the shoulder of the street, so it impacts cyclists,” he stated. 

“It additionally has an look of sort of a lockdown within the space. So, the looks, the aesthetics of the fencing, but additionally simply the logistics of getting across the fencing. All of which are one thing that may be a concern of residents,” Jelley stated, including the timing of when the fencing goes up will be delayed subsequent 12 months. 

Jelley stated Whitecap Leisure submitted the appliance for the 2024 CBMF final Friday, which is able to go to the council of their subsequent assembly, whereas there hasn’t been one for Sommo but. 

Public feedback can be open till Aug. 10, and the council and planning board will evaluate the suggestions and proceed engaged on particular occasion pointers and approving permits for subsequent 12 months’s occasions.

Thinh Nguyen is a enterprise reporter with SaltWire in Prince Edward Island. He will be reached by e-mail at [email protected] and adopted on Twitter @thinhnguyen4291.

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