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Sackville's Bordertown Festival continues to show success

Glenn Copeland – actor, composer, musician and educator – hosts a hand drumming workshop at the Sackville Commons as part of the 2017 Bordertown Festival lineup.
Glenn Copeland – actor, composer, musician and educator – hosts a hand drumming workshop at the Sackville Commons as part of the 2017 Bordertown Festival lineup. - Katie Tower

Annual spring event brings hundreds of visitors to town

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Four years after its debut, Sackville’s annual Bordertown Festival is continuing to thrive, bringing visitors to town and offering them a taste of the arts, culture and hospitality the town is known for.

“Overall the festival was very successful,” said Ron Kelly Spurles, manager of tourism and business development for the town, “with a large number of partners involved.”

This year’s edition, which was held May 2-6, saw similar attendance numbers to last year’s festival, reported Kelly Spurles, with about 1,600 people coming out to the various events. He said attendance varied by event and venue and it was estimated that anywhere from 40 to 60 per cent of attendees were from out of town.

“It was generally felt that the presence of a well-known headliner (David Myles) attracted more attention to the festival and a wider variety of types of events also attracted more people,” he stated.

Kelly Spurles, who provided a final written report on the Bordertown Festival to council last month, said the five-day event was introduced in 2015 as a way to showcase what the town has to offer in terms of entertainment and cultural attractions.

“The festival is intended to give local arts and culture groups and venues the opportunity to present a sample of what they do, in one weekend, early in the spring. The idea is that this will bring people from outside of town to sample several events in a short time period, and that they will then come back for more. We also want visitors to eat and stay here, and spend their money here too.”

Collaboration is key to the festival’s success, said Kelly Spurles, who said all of the events and activities throughout the weekend are organized by the various partners involved in the festival. From Fog Forest Gallery to Ducky’s bar, from the Rotary Club to the Sackville Legion, from the Sackville Literary Society to the Vogue Cinema, 21 local groups and businesses came on board this year to take part.

He said although it’s hard to judge the true economic impact of the festival, most of the businesses reported a profitable weekend and increased traffic.

“From the post-mortem survey that was conducted, and from speaking with partners, the majority of businesses who participated directly had a very positive economic experience,” he noted.

The town had a budget of about $14,000 for the festival, funds that were used to present the David Myles concert and also offset expenses for other venues and presenters. The municipality also spent about $3,000 on advertising, brochures and posters, money that came out of the department of tourism and business development’s advertising budget.

Kelly Spurles said his department strongly supports the idea of a fifth edition of the Bordertown Festival for 2019.

It was suggested by some of the partners that the festival could perhaps be moved to later in May or early June with a greater possibility of being able to host outdoor events. The necessity of lining up at least one large, well-known headliner was also among one of the top priorities.

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