COG back on long weekend?

Despite the great weather and the best sports and entertainment lineup the festival has ever had, Center of Gravity likely lost money this year.

Scott Emslie, the event founder and producer, says it will be a few weeks before he knows for sure, but he expects the festival will be in the red.

"Our revenues were lower this year and our expenses were higher. Financially, the festival is probably in a loss," says Emslie.

"In the next two weeks we'll have a better idea on the numbers. We're in a bit of a tough situation because we've kind of put the bar at a certain level for this festival and our expenses keep rising."

Several changes were made to the festival at the request of the City's Outdoor Events Committee including a move away from the August long weekend, a beefed up, on and off site, security plan, more live music and a marketing campaign focused more on the sporting activities and away from the entertainment.

Emslie says while he believes the changes were successful the weekend change had a direct impact on ticket sales which he says were down about 10 per cent.

Center of Gravity has sold out well in advance the past couple of years.

"Kelowna is a destination town and we have had a lot of people in the past travel in from the Lower Mainland, Calgary and Edmonton," says Emslie.

"Our numbers were a lot lower for ticket sales in those cities and I think the biggest reason was not being on the long weekend."

He adds there is also a lot more competition for the festival dollar, especially here in BC with mega festivals in both Squamish and Pemberton.

"Both those festivals are spending over $10M on the festival so we're now competing with some pretty big budget festivals."

Emslie believes in order to keep the festival financially sustainable, a move back to the August long weekend is imperative.

And, he believes the changes made to the festival this year, especially on the security end, will work on the long weekend.

"I think because of the positive impact of the changes we made with our security plan, I think we can move back onto the August long weekend. But, we still need to de-brief with the City of Kelowna and all of our staff."

As for whether moving back to the long weekend is a deal breaker for Center of Gravity, Emslie says he's not at that point yet.

"The City of Kelowna and the Outdoor Events Committee have been really great to work with and I'm sure once we have all of the stats from the weekend and let them know where we're at including the financial side of the festival...I'm pretty confident they will be willing to meet with us and work with us," says Emslie.

"I don't think we're at a point where we have to move back or we're moving to another city, but for the festival to continue it has to be financially sustainable. This was a much more difficult year for the festival than the last couple of years."

As for the event itself, Emslie says he couldn't be happier.

He says the weather was great the sports festival featured some very good athletes while the music side featured the biggest production the festival has put on to date.

RCMP also reported few problems.


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