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Brighter days ahead for children’s festival

Better to cancel this year's festival than risk the event's future by scrambling to put something together quickly

Each spring for the last decade, the Okanagan International Children’s Festival has brought some of the world’s best in children’s entertainment to Penticton.

The number of hours of laughter it has brought to children (and adults) throughout the region are countless, and the quality and professionalism of the production has earned it a rating as one of the top 10 children’s festivals in the world.

But even the best runner stumbles once in awhile. They pick themselves up, and sometimes even go on to win the race.

The children’s festival has stumbled over a sudden change in staffing, and the volunteer board of directors decided to cancel this year’s festival rather than put on a substandard one.

We think their decision is the correct one. Taking a year off to recoup and reorganize will, in the long run, lead to a better, stronger festival. The fallout, on the other hand, from a mediocre festival or a disorganized one could do far more damage to their reputation over the long term.

Funding also has to be considered. While the festival does charge for tickets, that only covers less than a quarter of the costs. The bulk of the funding comes from community sponsorships and government grants.

And let’s face it, funding from all those sources is tight. Taking a year off will allow the festival society to make the most of the funds they have, rather than fundraising to support mashing something together quickly that doesn’t meet the high standards established over the last decade.

To pick up the runner analogy again, now is the time to cheer on the festival, to encourage them to pick themselves up and get back in the race, with a new executive director and assistant leading the way.