The Barrie Carnival (CaribFest) has quickly become a post Toronto Carnival destination for entertainment seekers that want a nice lime with music, mas and food along the waterfront. For most, it reminds them of a less congested version of the Toronto Parade and brings back some memories of the Caribbean with the beautiful waterfront back drop on the parade route. For others, it was a family affair where you can bring your cook food and eat out of the trunk of your car with family and friends.
There is no denying event organizers of CaribFest saw a large growth in attendance. Most recently, in 2011 the route was updated, better usage of the park for vendors were implemented and there were more mas band participation. A post carnival review had glowing reviews from city councillors and police officers but everyone noted the rapid growth.
Success can be your worst enemy, if there isn’t a proper organisational structure in place to handle the growth and maintain future planning. Growth equates to more expenses, which requires more investment dollars that require more lead time to secure additional funding.
This year it has been reported and now confirmed that the outdoor component of the Barrie Carnival has been cancelled… earlier reports indicated that the “permits were denied” and no further explanation were provided. Most of us know that there is always more to a story and all it took was a quick email and conversation to shed some light on this.
Simply put, most of the time casual observers of Carnivals are quick to blame the “CITY” when we hear about “denied permits”, “reduced parade routes”, “no portable washrooms”, “increased policing”. It’s in the best interest of the cities that host these carnivals to ensure that these carnivals continue to be successful and attract outside visitors because of the simple positive economic and cultural impacts to their community…. so… we chose to dig deeper and find out what really happened.
Organizing and presenting any type of outdoor Caribbean themed Carnival is a lot of work and it is sometimes a thankless job where your mistakes are more recognized than your successes. However, every annual event needs to go through the proper due diligence and planning to ensure everything is in place for the upcoming year. Here’s what we know
1. The Barrie city staff and police were working for months with the event organizers to ensure the success of the event
2. It was recommended by the city that the proper applications be submitted by December (2011) but they were submitted in the Spring (2012)
3. Recommendations were provided to improve their grant application and their organisation structure but the quality of application was not on par and the grant amount was subsequently lowered
4. The Barrie police cited resource concerns and recommended increased policing
5. A combination of the lowered grant monies and increased policing expenses proved to be too much for the organization.
This is not an article to slag the orgnizers but an eye opener for everyone that these organizations need guidance and help. How many times you see people “want to help” and then disappear during preparations and then show up at the end to ride on everyone’s coat tails so they can claim “I was involved“… seriously? We can’t even slag the city because the growth in attendance simply required more policing that most people would appreciate.
On the weekend of August 17th in Barrie there will still be music, food and the waterfront but no parade. The events have been taken indoors and will feature a Cruise on Friday, a day concert on Saturday with Crazy and a night concert with Rupee. This is a step in the right direction, where they have a potential event that will generate revenues but it will be a hard sell.
Check out the event flyer and their website http://www.caribfest.ca for more details.
It can be just one way to show your support to ensure the road parade comes back in 2013.
This year we also lost D.C. Carnival (no matter how they spin it) and countless other carnival committees are feeling the strain of their growing carnivals. Some say that it’s “old school” thinking of the organizations that poison things but even the current generation don’t realize the magnitude of planning and effort involved.
It’s not just about the day of the parade… but without it, we all fail to showcase the greatest culture on this planet.
We wish the Barrie organizers success in the future… and also warn them to not create brand confusion by highlighting other events not related to your great Carnival… Muskoka.. cough cough… hint hint