With the roar of the dinosaurs now only an echo, Rotary International Children’s Festival organizers are already planning next year’s memories.
“We actually start looking at what artists we are going to have right about now,” said first-time executive director Conrad Burek, who took over the reins from Gord Osland. “We’ve learned we can’t remain stagnant, and because it’s an international festival, we have the whole world to choose from, so there is no excuse. There are limitations, but we have access to incredible things that hopefully amaze children and inspire them.”
With that inaugural festival behind him, he is already planning for an even bigger and better show in 2013. A tall order, but it’s a challenge he is more than happy and confident about taking on after this year’s success.
“Despite the teachers’ job action, which significantly affected our ticket sales Thursday and Friday, I think the artistic choices we made this year and the amazing weather gave us a record-breaking Saturday,” said the executive director. “We even ran out of physical tickets on Saturday.”
He estimated there were in excess of 3,000 people that day alone and more than 10,000 overall.
“When you compare that to the size of Penticton, that’s a third of the city,” said Burek.
Saturday was so busy an attempt was made to squeeze in a third Erth’s Dinosaur Petting Zoo show, and Elage Diouf had to be moved to an outside stage because the tent was not large enough to hold the audience.
The organizer believes a large part of the success is the fact the shows are just as much fun (and even educational) for the adults too.
“We could easily drop the word children’s out of the international festival, all the shows stand on their own,” said Burek. “Part of our challenge when we make the artistic choices is to get artists who entertain on many levels, but they’re all pros and that speaks to the level of performer.”
“Also, I’ve been to university and got a couple of degrees, but nope, I learned stuff, which is really cool and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
But, as always, for next year Burek wants to continue to bring different parts of the world to kids who may not otherwise have the chance to experience them.