By Nancy Kelly
Despite facing a variety of challenges in rolling out this summer’s 67th annual Gala Days in Berwick, members of the planning committee are ready to roll up their sleeves and get busy organizing the town’s 2013 event.
“There will be a 68th Gala Days next year,” assured association president Greg Pulsifer, who met with fellow organizers Nov. 28 for the group’s annual general meeting and to hand out funding to youth groups that assisted at the 2012 event. Gala Days was established nearly 70 years ago as a way to fund youth activity clubs in Berwick and its satellite communities.
Changes away from Gala Days’ traditional Labour Day weekend date to early August, its location and a shorter timeframe in which to plan didn’t generate much in the way of anticipated revenue, but organizers appeared encouraged by the fact the final outcome was a positive one.
“The changes that were made this year out of necessity will ensure the future of Gala Days,” said Pulsifer.
Treasurer Sherrill Sweeney reported, “We didn’t make a lot of money, but we showed more profit than in 2011.”
The association’s balance sheet indicates a total of five community youth groups shared in $1,900, which represented 100 per cent of funds raised through food sales and fee-for-service agreements at this year’s event. For a second consecutive year, however, there was no surplus fund to distribute between the First Berwick Scouts, Berwick Band Parents Association, Berwick Ringette, Berwick Minor Ball and Berwick Minor Hockey.
The Berwick and District Community Association, which traditionally garnered the biggest share of surplus funds, was not in the mix this year.
“It’s a different situation now with the new rink,” said Pulsifer, adding Gala Days paid a fee to the community association for use of the arena for some events.
Sweeney said after all the bills are paid, the committee will have $400 to move forward to 2013.
The committee plans to “comb through each and every event” to find efficiencies.
“We did that last year, but it’s clear more changes need to be made,” Pulsifer said.
Revenue from the gate was reported down significantly this year at $6,302. However, a $5,000 donation from the town helped the gates and grounds show a profit.
Sponsorship was also up in 2012, with $20,500 raised through community sponsors.
“The response from sponsors was phenomenal,” said association co-president Rod Reeves.
While close to 70 per cent of events had sponsorship, he said the key to more success in 2013 lies with getting all events and activities sponsored.
Money-losing events included the ATV and strong man competitions, which resulted in respective net losses of $4,508 and $1,687, and the fireworks, which ended up in the red by $5,000. The grand street parade and princess pageant also posted losses of $1,157 and $1,841.
Pulsifer pointed out both the midway provider, which set up mechanical rides on the town hall property, and local retailers experienced financial benefits from the four-day fair.
“Maritime Midways was satisfied to reach their target,” said Pulsifer, who noted the Gala Days committee also earned a nominal share of the midway take. The company has agreed to return to the event in 2013, which Pulsifer says is critical to attracting crowds to the fair.
“In order to get the people out we need the rides. And when there is more people in town it is definitely good for the businesses.”
Pulsifer was returned to his position of president for 2013 and Reeves will assume the position of vice-president of the planning committee. Sherrill Sweeney remains as treasurer, Dana St. Louis as secretary and Donna Conrad as pageant coordinator.
“We welcome new volunteers and youth group partners and their ideas,” urged Pulsifer, who noted vacancies exist for sponsorship, grounds and food concession coordinators.
Gala Days 2013 will be held Aug. 7-11 on Berwick’s town hall property.