Sunny skies were a welcome sight for The Works Art and Design Festival organizers Tuesday. Just five of the 13 days of the visual arts festival went without rain.
“This is the last day of my 15th festival, and it’s the rainiest Works that I’ve experienced,” said the festival’s executive artistic director, Amber Rooke.
“It definitely affects attendance,” Rooke said. “If you look at Canada Day just, for example, we had maybe 20,000 people through, which sounds like a lot but when you compare it to the 55,000 last year, then that’s a hit.”
Rooke said 99 per cent of the festival went on as planned regardless of the weather, adding they’re proud of those hearty Edmontonians that did show up.
The City of Edmonton saw 50 per cent more rain than average for June and came in at a close third for the wettest June of the past decade as per Environment Canada data.
Though it’s a covered event, the Freewill Shakespeare Festival has also seen a dip in attendance thanks to Mother Nature.
“We’re down about 2,000 people over last year and the weather does play a factor,” said the event’s publicist Joshua Semchuk.
Rain or shine, the Shakespeare performances go on every night at 8:00 p.m., the problem is not all Edmontonians have the same rain-be-damned mentality.
“People wait, they think, ‘Well OK, it’s running July 18 I can take as long as I want,'” said Semchuk. “One day it’s not going to be there any day and you’re going to think, ‘Darn I missed it,’ so don’t wait.”
Over at The Works, staffers say they were encouraged by the crowds determined to have fun.
“Those first few days people were like, ‘Maybe I’ll wait until it’s sunny,'” said Rooke, “but after those first four days of rain we just saw people come out with the umbrellas.”
“I hope that we took one for the team and that everybody else gets sunny skies for the rest of the summer.”