No scam: Apple Blossom Festival asking for help via crowd-funding site

Kirk Starratt
Published on March 8, 2016

KINGS COUNTY - Although a lot of people are questioning the legitimacy and police have received a complaint, the president of the Apple Blossom Festival says an online fundraising effort is not a scam.

Gary Long said the intent behind the request is to rally financial support for the festival and help attract volunteers. Sponsors come and go and the board has heard through corporate offices that some sponsorship funds the festival had in the past have been redirected.

Long said he wouldn’t go so far as to say the festival is in financial trouble. The crowd-funding site was launched “to try to pick up some of the loose ends,” he said.

“It changed the picture for us a little bit,” he said about losing sponsorships.

Perhaps because of a lack of prior notice, Long said some people are assuming the online fundraiser is a scam. He said the Kentville Police called him March 8 after they received a complaint. He’s also been fielding calls from community representatives.

He said the ‘Go Fund Me’ page was the idea of Sarah Tibbetts, the children’s parade board representative. It aims to raise $70,000 for the festival. As of early afternoon March 8, three people had made donations of $20 each.

Long said the board met March 7 and Tibbetts came up with the idea after she left. She later emailed Long and other board members about it. Long said he and others thought it was a good idea, but he didn’t expect it to show up online so quickly.

He said there had been no notification on the festival’s website or Facebook page about the fundraising effort as vice-president and public relations representative Lindsay Young, who looks after the sites, was out of town. A notification has since been posted on the festival’s Facebook.

There was no news release issued about it.

According to the Go Fund Me page, $69,000 was needed to run the festival in 2015. The festival has “run into some issues where funding and volunteers are lacking,” Tibbets wrote in the description on the page.

“It would be devastating to see an event that brings such prosperity and joy to the people involved fold under such pretences, but that is the sad reality that we are facing today,” it says on the fundraising website.

Long said there is no danger of the plug being pulled on the 84th annual festival, taking place from May 25 to 30.

“If we were going to shut down, we wouldn’t do it this late in the season,” he said.

Acting Kentville Police Chief Ken Reade confirmed that there is some concern in the community that the fundraiser is a scam.

“We received a call this morning from someone wondering if it was legit or not,” Reade said.

He said they were in contact with the festival about it and determined there is nothing illegal about the online fundraiser. Reade said he understands that the Apple Blossom Festival is going to do more to promote and advertise the effort.