Lighthouse Blues Festival
to become a premier event,
By Liz Dadson
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Organizers hope to establish the Kincardine Lighthouse Blues Festival as a premier summer event.
Rick Clarke and Brad Kirkconnell spoke to Kincardine council at its Feb. 15 meeting, encouraging support for the festival, both financially through community grants, and in the closure of Queen Street.
Also on hand for the presentation was John McManus of the Kincardine Lions Club which is the charity of choice for this year's festival.
Slated for Friday-Saturday, July 13-14, the festival will be greatly expanded, featuring four stages and a street market in downtown Kincardine, said Clarke.
"We started out two years ago with one stage, a budget of $10,000 and attracted 500 people," Clarke said. "Last year, we had two stages, a budget of $20,000 and drew about 800 people. This year, we're going to have four stages, a budget of $40,000 and we hope to attract more than 2,000 fans."
The main stage has always been in The Bruce Steakhouse parking lot on the Friday and Saturday nights, beginning at 5 p.m., with five to six acts each night This is a paid admission event and features national and international artists.
Clarke said the organizers have already begun negotiating with artists and will be bringing bands in from Denver, Nashville, Memphis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Toronto, Kingston and London. Local artists will also be part of the two-day line-up.
The street festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 14. It will feature a youth showcase stage at Queen's Lookout; an art zone, art exhibition and children's activity area in front of the Kincardine Arts Centre; an electric Blues stage in front of the Kincardine Library; and an acoustic Blues stage at Lambton Street.
The festival organizers will work with the Lions Club which will provide volunteers for the event, said Clarke. Funds raised will go toward the Lions Park playground project.
Last year, the festival raised $4,000 for the Davidson Centre revitalization project.
The request of council was to approve the closure of Queen Street, from Durham Market South to Lambton Street, Saturday, July 14, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Plus, provide financial assistance through the Enbridge and community grant programs or any other budget allocation deemed appropriate.
Clarke reminded council that the festival is a non-profit corporation and all proceeds will go toward community projects, such as the Lions Park this year. "This event is also an economic engine for the downtown."
"I'm a bit frustrated at seeing the arts and cultural groups having to come to council, begging for funds and support," said councillor Jacqueline Faubert. "As a council, we need to rethink how we support these events that are put on by volunteers and promote tourism in our municipality."
She urged council to come up with a strategy that would mean less begging from the community.
"I agree we need to sit down and look at this seriously," said councillor Ron Coristine. "This group has done a fantastic job and put in a lot of work to provide a wonderful Blues festival in Kincardine."
Councillor Mike Leggett congratulated the festival organizers on a job well done. "This is a good tourism and economic development driver for Kincardine."
Councillor Kenneth Craig suggested staff formulate a policy regarding the proper funding for tourism and economic development events, such as the Lighthouse Blues Festival.
Council agreed, and will take a serious look at how arts, culture and heritage are funded, when it discusses the 2012 budget next month.
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Monday, February 27, 2012