There was no shortage of entertainment in the Harbour City this past March.
From pirates to performers, one newly formed festival seemed to have it all.
Festival Nanaimo, which took place throughout the month of March, featured performances by Jim Byrnes, Barney Bentall, John Mann, Joëlle Rabu and the Irish Rovers as well as family-oriented events such as PirateFest.
“I think it was a success as a first event,” said Margot Holmes, Festival Nanaimo co-organizer.
She said the Irish Rovers, Rabu and PirateFest were among the most popular events during the festival.
Organizers received $5,000 from Tourism Nanaimo’s Tourism Development Fund to stage the festival.
“It is not a huge amount of money,” Holmes said. “Everything else was funded through partnerships and sponsorships with community people and ticket sales.”
Tourism Nanaimo executive director of destination management Lesley Anderson said she was pleased with how Festival Nanaimo turned out, adding that it was “worth every penny.”
“In their first year they did a fantastic job of putting together a great lineup of performances and also aggregating information about all the different activities and things that were going on in the month of March in Nanaimo,” Anderson said.
Although neither Festival Nanaimo nor Tourism Nanaimo know exactly how much tourism was generated, both say that hotels saw an increase in guests in March.
“We don’t track down to a festival level at this point,” Anderson said. “We are working on how we are going to do that going forward.”
While Festival Nanaimo experienced plenty of successes, there were also disappointments such as cancelled events and lower than expected attendance at others.
“In the end we did about seven signature events, a couple of them we cancelled,” Holmes said.
Among the events that were cancelled was Yukon-based rockers Speed Control, who were scheduled to participate in a week-long music camp as well as a performance.
Both Holmes and Anderson pointed out that with any first time festival, there are going to be successes and failures.
“These festivals and events take awhile to grow,” Anderson said.
Festival Nanaimo is scheduled to take place again next March.