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CountryFest organizers say event in peril

Rising costs to stage the popular camping and concert event at the Murillo Fairgrounds have pushed expenses close to the $500,000 mark.
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Murillo Countryfest
Murillo Countryfest (Supplied)

THUNDER BAY – A popular local country music festival could be at risk to return for a third summer.

CountryFest organizers say rising financial costs to stage the privately owned and operated event, which drew 6,000 attendees in 2017, could prove to be too much of a barrier to hold it again in 2018, adding they’re looking for additional sponsors and holding out hope they can make it happen.

“We are currently in the process of hiring a sponsorship co-ordinator to help us find new sponsors and available financial support in order to make CountryFest possible,” organizers wrote in a release issued on Thursday.

“Sadly, it is difficult to find sponsors interested in supporting a fairly new event, and at the same time finding companies that are willing to partner with the event on a long-term basis.  We need the support of our community, local business and our patrons to make this event a yearly undertaking.”

Unlike Marina Park, where much of the staging is in place during the summer months, the set-up at the Murillo Fairgrounds requires renting a stage, a generator, sound and lighting and hiring a crew to ensure it all runs smoothly.

“This along with artist fees pushed our festival to over a half million dollars in expenses,” the release states.    

Last year’s event included the musical talents of of Brett Kissel, Tim Hicks and Doc Walker, to name just a few, on the bill. 

Organizers with Encore Entertainment added without finding more sponsors, the only way to hold the event this summer would involve a significant increase in ticket and camping prices, a direction they’d rather not take.

“Of course, increased ticket prices could hamper our ability to sell tickets which increases our risk, as artists and rental agreements all require large non-refundable deposits funded solely by ticket revenue.  With that, we are quickly running out of time looking for support from our community and local businesses to help us reach our goal of hosting CountryFest No. 3,” organizers said.

Proceeds from the event support both the Fort William Rotary Club and Wilderness Discovery.

For more information, visit www.murillocountryfest.com.



Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 17 years and has served a similar role with TBNewsWatch.com since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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