Wednesday, September 4, 2013

More folk fest speculation

Putting my Light Bulb Hat on (cue Lou and Peter Berryman for musical accompaniment), here's some further thoughts on ticket prices.

To better judge the cost of attending the Winnipeg Folk Festival, let's look at a couple of other folk fests I've been to so far this year.  Erin and I went to Red House Records' Barnfest a month ago where there were seven very good to fantastic (Dean Magraw is a guitar GOD) performances from 1pm to 8pm, and the cost per ticket was $27 each.  Now that's a bargain, no doubt about it.  Y'all should come join us at Barnfest next year, by the way.

Then last Labor Day weekend I went to Storyhill Fest up in Deerwood, MN where there was a two day festival with overnight camping for two nights, featuring eleven acts, two workshops, a group campfire and other activities, cost for two persons for the weekend: $250.  So for two persons and two nights, it worked out to a cost of $62.50 per day, with the cost for camping being $20 a day per person of that total cost.  (There was a bathhouse with hot showers and flush toilets available for those who were camping too.)

So for the Winnipeg folk fest, the total cost for five days of music and camping is about $325 (including taxes & fees), which divided by five is $65 Canadian.  So on a per day basis, the Winnipeg folk fest doesn't seem to cost more than you would expect.  Now I've never run a folk fest so I have no idea what costs scale and what costs don't, but perhaps the reason the Winnipeg fest was such a relative bargain for years was that they were still paying "festival scale" to performers who would accept that, but now they must pay more for acts (as CD sales have dried up as a revenue source), especially more for big name performers.  Also, and I don't know if this is anyone else's impression, but there does seem to have been an increase in the number of performers relative to the number of fest attendees, in particular performers at Big Blue at Night.  That might account for a significant part of the increase in ticket prices in the past several years, more so than the adding of a fifth night on Wednesday.

I was mentioning to Erin last night that while it was nice to have more acts, the fact is that you can't get to all of them and there's a law of diminishing returns that applies in general as a festival gets bigger.  (Not to mention all the "animations" in what I think of as the Winnipeg Folk Festival's Festival Camping Festival.)  At some point, maybe the possibility of having TWO festivals in Winnipeg at Bird's Hill Park would make sense, with one being a traditional folk festival and the other more like Bonnaroo/Coachella/Festapalooza/whatever.  I'm sure all the long-time fest volunteers right now are thinking: NOOOOOOOOOO!!!  Still, it's submitted for your approval Mr. Serling... (cue Wolfgang K's maniacal laughter...   ;-)

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