It could have been community support, or it could have been the weather. Either way, the Lilac Festival drew record crowds yesterday that were expected to surpass 100,000 people.
Whether they were soaking in the sun over a beer, perusing the variety of booths or taking in some live music, they were doing it by the thousands, according to 4th Street BRZ director Jennifer Rempel.
“The weather is definitely a dictator and we have crowds like we did three years ago when the weather was great,” she said. We’re very pleased with the turnout.”
While Rempel didn’t want to let politics overshadow the success of the festival, she said the community has really pulled together to show their support.
Festival co-ordinators said their costs to run the free all-day event have been skyrocketing recently.
“We had two private businesses give us free parking for our visitors in their parkades and every year the support keeps growing,” Rempel said, adding the community is a huge factor in the success of the popular festival.
A group called Friends of the Lilac Festival garnered donations from festival goers, which was part of a pilot project to go to charity and help offset some of the soaring costs the festival is facing, volunteer Tom Wickson said.
“It’s been a mixed response but most people are really supportive, and we’re just trying to help keep costs down,” Wickson added.
First-time visitor Valerie Dion-Bouchard, 26, was surprised at how many people took in the festival.
“I knew it would be busy, but I didn’t think it would be this busy,” she said. “It would be nice if it was spread over two days and maybe not as busy.”