There wasn’t a huge increase in the attendance numbers at the Rotary International Children’s’ Festival, but organizers said it’s mirroring the trend of recent years.
“It’s right on the money really; it’s kind of stabilized at that level, said Gord Osland, executive director of the volunteer society that puts on the festival. “We were quite thrilled, especially the first day, there was rain.”
But the less than sunny weather didn’t deter the kids from having fun, according to Osland.
“It didn’t really stop any kind of enthusiasm at all. The kids were just running around having a great time anyway,” he said.
“The shows were great — it’s indescribable. How much fun can you have? I never heard a cross word the whole three days, everyone was having a fantastic time.”
While most of the 10,000 coming through the festival gates at Okanagan Lake Park, some were coming from farther afield, including Washington State as well as the Lower Mainland.
“They miss the Vancouver outdoor site, they are all indoors now,” said Osland. They’ve also seen a growth in the number of people including the festival as a “must-do” as they tour the region, visiting wineries and other attractions.
“We are seeing more of that kind of spread now. They were calling the office to see what hotels to use, and if we had any kind of special festival rates,” said Osland. “It’s not just a city event now, it’s a regional festival. So we’re tapping into a lot more people coming in.”
This festival will be Osland’s last though as he follows through on his plans to retire.
“I am going to sleep for a week, maybe more,” he said. Other plans, he said, include performing and recording music.
“It’s going to be back in the roots of where I come from. I started playing music in the early 60s,” he said. “And hang out with the grandkids, take them to hockey and swimming, and just be Grandpa Gord.”
Osland adds that the festival has a solid organization with the combination of Karen Dunham continuing as administrator and Conrad Burek stepping into his old position.
“I think we are in good hands here … He’s got the people skills and I have every bit of faith that he is going to get out there and raise more money than I ever have.”