The place are the volunteers? Kelowna’s Fats Cat Kids’s Pageant canceled | iNFOnews

The Fat Cat Children’s Festival at Waterfront Park is just one of the fun things happening in Kelowna this weekend.

Image Credit: Contributed

June 11, 2022 – 8:00 AM

A Kelowna children’s festival that was once hit in the city’s downtown for its free family entertainment is canceled for 2022 because of a lack of volunteers.

Melissa Bourdon-King, outgoing president of the Fat Cat Children’s Festival, said the event has lost a lot of personnel working behind the scenes during the pandemic, including an executive director and board of directors.

There’s also been an extreme challenge with finding enough volunteers to hold the event each year. They’ve also lost most of their major sponsors, she said.

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The last Fat Cat Festival was held virtually in 2020 but they haven’t had the resources to be able to hold it since then.

“It’s been a really challenging time, especially for something that is volunteer run for the most part… after 2020 we really had to work from the ground up to get something going again,” Bourdon-King said.

It’s been a “real uphill battle” to find enough volunteers to be able to put the festival on, potentially in 2023.

The challenge of getting volunteers predates the pandemic, Bourdon-King said.

“The way our budget has worked, we’ve only ever had the funding for one executive director on a part-time basis,” she said.

Kelowna Coun. Ryan Donn who also works as the cultural development coordinator for Lake Country said while larger events like Denim on the Diamond in Kelowna and AltiTunes at Big White are drawing large crowds, the entertainment industry is struggling to find enough volunteers and employees to meet the demand.

“Each part of the event business is struggling… so the labor shortage is making it really difficult for people to match the demand so you see a lot of prices going up for events.”

“We’ve got a mismatch where everyone wants (events) but the ability to provide it is low right now.”

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Community-driven events like May Days didn’t happen this year and some of those will come back, Donn said.

“We didn’t trust the relaxing of the rules and then when they do you look around and say ‘hey, Frank used to do social media, well Frank moved,” he said. “People have shifted to a non-event lifestyle so I think the community ones are going to struggle the most.”

For-profit events will be successful as long as they can find staff.

Finding volunteers was challenging before the pandemic with community-based events but it’s been amplified by the pandemic, Donn said.

“I think it’s going to be a really busy year of events but I think it will slow down a bit next year, I’m expecting the biggest summer ever for concerts.”

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