GORE BAY—A ‘Harbour Days’ festival will be held in the town of Gore Bay this July in conjunction with the annual Mackinac-Manitoulin international yacht races.
“There is a report on this in your packages, but I will provide some background on this proposal,” Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane told council at a meeting last week. He explained the concept for this had come up after feedback had been provided on the impact of the annual Gore Bay Summer Festival and council subsequently passing a resolution to cancel it unless changes were made to its schedule.
“It was proposed the summer festival be turned into harbour days and held in conjunction with the annual MacMan race,” said Mr. Lane.
The annual Gore Bay Summer Festival was the primary summer event from 2006 until 2011. However, in 2011 attendance numbers dropped and the town suffered a great monetary loss.
However, “an annual summer event in Gore Bay is important due to the fact that the town of Gore Bay’s economy is based largely on tourism,” the report states. “The community is a tourism destination with a variety of artistic, sporting, and cultural attractions and an annual summer event aids in attracting new revenue into the town while providing recreational and social opportunities to year round residents.”
“Harbour Days will be a family oriented event,” the report continued. “Introducing a children/family-centric festival will hopefully cause attendance to increase dramatically. Most activities will be offered for free. The town of Gore Bay will act merely as a facilitator, with service clubs and town businesses having the main responsibilities for the event.”
“Harbour Days will be an opportunity to showcase our marina and waterfront, to promote and provide a boost to town businesses, and to co-ordinate it with the MacMan race,” the report continued.
Mr. Lane said after attending last year’s MacMan race events in Gore Bay, “I felt this was a fairly significant event, with a lot of people there that do not live here in Gore Bay, or on the Island. There was quite a crowd at the waterfront and I didn’t know anyone of the approximately 100 people in attendance at the award presentation at the end of the first leg of the race. I felt we should have more presence from the town there.”
Mr. Lane said the public works committee met with local service clubs, pointing out the Rotary Club facilitates a fish fry on the Friday and a breakfast the next day for participants in the MacMan race, and holds a public fish fry on the Saturday evening.
In January, “I met with representatives of our local service clubs, the Legion, fire department, Lions and Rotary clubs, indicating the town was there to help with facilitate events, cooperate and partner with them on events, but not as the main coordinator, we want to get out of that. Based on this we asked reps from the clubs to attend a preliminary meeting with myself, Annette (Clarke) and Lindsay (Lane). We discussed the concept of supporting their organizations on their events and came up with an event we can all support—a signature event like the Haweater Weekend and the Providence Bay Fair,” continued Mr. Lane. “This was well received by the service organizations. The Lions Club, for instance, is interested in holding a beer garden on the Saturday, and on Friday night perhaps a wine-beer garden could be set up with local entertainment on hand, and the fire department would like to host this.”
“And if someone is interested in hosting a dance, say at the arena, this would be great,” added Mr. Lane. “There could be activities on Saturday afternoon with, for instance, cardboard boat races. We will be raising this at the next business advisory committee, hopefully getting them involved in this, such as holding sidewalk sales or another type of activity.” He pointed out the service clubs would need to get the required licences to hold their events.
“With the Rotary Club holding its public fish fry on Saturday night, and by having a crowd of people down at the waterfront for the other activities, it would help out their attendance at the dinner as people would already be down at the waterfront,” continued Mr. Lane.
“With this being the first year (of Harbour Days) there would still be some organizing work done by the town, for instance Lindsay (Lane) would need to find someone to run the kids games,” said Ms. Clarke.
“Harbour Days would work well with the MacMan events,” added councillor Lou Addison.
“We have definite interest from the service clubs and support of the whole concept,” said Mr. Lane.
“This is a good idea,” agreed councillor Lou Addison.
“I think we are going in the right direction with this,” said councillor Jack Clark. “We need to try and move away from the town being the coordinator of these type of events. If we can get other groups and clubs involved, we can get away from the town being the main organizer.”
“We have taken the first step toward everyone working toward holding this event, we have had one meeting and we will need another one soon to firm everything up for this event,” added Mr. Lane.