Money-los­ing Highland Games get the caber toss

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - HINA ALAM ha­lam@post­media.com Twit­ter:@hi­nakalam

The Fort Ed­mon­ton Highland Games, a sum­mer sta­ple, will not be held this year be­cause the event was no longer fi­nan­cially vi­able, or­ga­niz­ers say.

The de­ci­sion to can­cel the event, slated for July 14-15, was not an easy one, Carl Damour, vice-pres­i­dent of oper­a­tions with the Fort Ed­mon­ton Man­age­ment Co., said in an email Wed­nes­day.

“Af­ter very care­ful re­view, we iden­ti­fied that this event was sim­ply not fi­nan­cially vi­able,” he said.

The de­ci­sion was met with anger and dis­ap­point­ment by the Scot­tish com­mu­nity.

In an email, John Ste­wart, pres­i­dent of the Alberta So­ci­ety of Pipers & Drum­mers (ASPD), said his group is “ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed, and sad­dened.”

The can­cel­la­tion, he said, was on short no­tice and has put a bur­den on many who made travel plans and bought plane tick­ets and re­served ho­tel rooms.

Damour said at­ten­dance var­ied with the weather.

“A typ­i­cal week­end in July would see about 2,000 vis­i­tors,” he said.

The event, first held at the park about 29 years ago, had been op­er­at­ing at a deficit for a num­ber of years, Damour said.

Plans for next year are un­cer­tain, he added.

“We are com­mit­ted to work­ing with our part­ners to make fu­ture events big­ger and bet­ter,” he said. “We will do that. How­ever, with fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity in mind.”

As part of the new strate­gic di­rec­tion for the park, Damour said all events will be eval­u­ated to en­sure they are mar­ket-aligned, cus­tomer-fo­cused and fi­nan­cially vi­able.

“This will en­sure that Fort Ed­mon­ton Park can grow as Western Canada’s pre­miere cul­tural her­itage tourist at­trac­tion,” he said.

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