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Gibsons' OceanFest won't go ahead in 2024

Organizers point to tight timelines for raising money and a volunteer base as the reason for the festival not proceeding. They still hope to hold an event next year.
sea cavalcade
The last time revellers enjoyed a Sea Cavalcade event was in July 2018 – it seems Gibsons will need to wait at least a year for another community festival.

A Gibsons community festival that had been pitched as the spiritual successor to the defunct Sea Cavalcade won’t happen in 2024. 

In a May 20 statement, OceanFest Organizers Ross Powell and Diana Robertson pointed to tight timelines for raising money and a volunteer base as the reason for the festival not proceeding.

“The lack of these critical resources has put severe restrictions on producing the kind of multi-faceted and memorable festival we designed and want to deliver to the town, area residents, and visitors,” said the statement. 

With more lead time, Powell and Robertson hope to proceed with a “family-friendly seaside sports, culture, and conservation festival” next year.

The inaugural OceanFest, which Gibsons council first heard about in February, had been planned for July 13 and 14 in Lower Gibsons. It was to celebrate Howe Sound coastal life through multi-cultural arts, sports and educational activities. (BlueAct Marine Society will still host an Ocean Conservation Day on July 14 at Gibsons Public Market.)

Town council gave festival organizers the go-ahead in April and committed $5,000 to the endeavour. The festival’s budget shared at that time was just under $40,000.

Gibsons Mayor Silas White said at a May 21 council meeting that the business and community support wasn’t there this year – despite some of the businesses coming to him regularly saying they want another festival. “OceanFest probably needs to maybe consult the community more in terms of what people are actually willing to put their funds towards,” and get the message out over a “longer period of time,” he said. 

“Hopefully we’ll look forward to community festival next summer,” said White. 

At the meeting, Coun. David Croal noted that Conchita Harding has secured funding for a Canada Day event, so that will go ahead. (A request to the town for $10,000 for that event was denied back in April.) 

– With files from Keili Bartlett