KEARNEY – The long-standing tradition of the Town of Kearney’s regatta will not continue if no one is prepared to step up to the plate and take it over.
“I have to step back this year,” said Regatta committee chair coun. Yvonne Wills. “I’ll give people another chance to come forward and help.”
However, she says despite pleas for volunteers, none came forward with the exception of the handful of volunteers who have assisted in the past.
Wills says she has already informed council of her decision explaining that the attendance numbers weren’t there, they were behind the eight-ball with the weather, and not generating the same revenue with the cancellation of the street dance.
“And I said speaking of Regatta, I can’t do it next year. This is it,” she said. “I have to step away from it is too much work for me. I can’t do it.”
If no one steps forward it will mark the end of an event that has continued for more than six decades.
“I’ll be honest with you. I think we’ve seen the end of it,” she said.
Wills said she would step up to ensure the fire works run in the future but unless someone else takes over responsibility for the Regatta is over.
Wills was the chair of a three-person committee that included herself as chair, her husband and Teresa Manning and a handful of volunteers.
“I did what I could with a handful of volunteers,” she said. “I had to cancel the children’s water sports because I didn’t have a volunteer to run it.”
She says they have not gone over figures to determine how they made out at this year’s Regatta, but know not having the Saturday night dance had a very negative impact.
“At this point in time the figures are not in yet as to where we are with Regatta but I don’t think it made any money,” she said. “But I can’t say for sure until all of the bills are in.”
Wills says she is proud to have been able to put forward a Regatta, which is a long-standing tradition in the community, and help support the community spirit.
Unfortunately, along with the children’s water sports other events were cancelled.
Due to a fire ban the annual fire works were cancelled and with that went the steel drum band.
“I could not financially justify spending $1,000 for the Northern Lights Steel Band to come on Sunday night and play to an empty street. It didn’t make sense,” she said.
The Battle of the Bands was also pulled from this year’s agenda due to a lack of sponsors.
“The sponsor that sponsored it last year was not interested in sponsoring it this year so there was no money to do that,” she said.
There was also an issue with needing engineer accepted plans for the stage and the beer tent, which they do not have.
“I couldn’t use the stage and I couldn’t use the beer tent. I had to rent a tent this year,” she said. “It cost me more money this year because I had to rent these things.”
Every year $30,000 is budgeted for the Regatta and there are still funds in the budget.
“Usually it’s revenue neutral. You spend it and then make it back with the dance, the beer garden and the gate admission,” she said. “Well we didn’t have the dance and the gate admissions this year so it’s not going to be a revenue neutral event.”
She says they did very well with the beer garden on Saturday, however rain thwarted profits on Sunday.
She says there were a few problem events.
The Saturday night open air movie did not fall victim to rain but only about 110 people, however it was well-received by those in attendance.