The days of St Annes’ Kite Festival could be numbered because of rising costs, organisers have warned.
The Festival on the resort’s beach has gained a glowing national and international reputation since making its debut six years ago and has attracted as many as 70,000 visitors in a single year.
But the volunteer organisers have expressed concern that the whole future of the event is under threat unless greater financial backing is forthcoming.
They predict visitor numbers could reach 80,000 this year, with the Festival scheduled for August 31 to September 2.
But they are already looking at possibly having to ditch some popular features and along with an urgent plea to local businesses for sponsorship, have registered as a Community Interest Company in a bid to attract lottery funding.
Organisers’ spokesman Pat May said the event cost £18,000 to stage last year, compared to a budget of £3,000 in its first year, 2012.
He said: “We have a number of core supporters and a few of the local hotels have been generous with reduced or free rooms for flyers but we need more local business support or after this year we may not be able to continue.
“We have tried a variety of business-to-business communication strategies to raise funds with limited success and elements of the Festival may not happen this year.
“Our toilets sponsor from last year is not helping this time so we will need to find an extra £2,000 given the numbers that attended last year.
“Also a sponsor who last year said they would increase the amount this time also pulled out a couple of months ago.
“Everybody wants the event but few want to pay.
“We may have to pull the samba dancers, stage and even the fireworks.
“Unless things change I do fear it will be the last.”
Pat said that most of the Festival costs are for toilets, insurance, arena, first aid, lighting and the like, adding “Very little percentage-wise actually gets spent on the kite fliers.
“We hope the registration as a CIC will give us far more chance of lottery funding for some activities on the beach, I have applied twice before and been turned down.
“The Festival has grown from humble beginnings to an event of international status, ranked as one of the top five British family days out in the summer by national press.
“Our first festival attracted 4,000 people and last year more than 69,000 attended.
”We estimate that boosted the local business economy by more than £1.2m during the Festival weekend.
“During our development, we have been generously supported by St Annes Town Council and Fylde Council who have shouldered some of the organisational costs required to plan, programme and deliver a festival of this size.
“Although still supportive and giving us full access to the beach, promenade and council services, the financial backing we have received annually to start up and develop is now reducing and the Festival has to become a financially sustainable model, raising income and support from local partners to guarantee it can continue as a free event in 2018 and into the future.
“We thank everyone who has shown support in the previous six years but in order for us to continue to enjoy the success and prominence that the Festival brings our community we need greater support from local businesses.
“We have devised a range of sponsorship opportunities and are very interested in forging three-year links with businesses to try and secure the future of the event.”
Anyone interested in providing backing should contact Helen Ficorilli at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07980 992872.