Edmonton

Heritage Festival ends with a bang, but leaves Edmonton Food Bank hungry for donations

Monday's sunny skies gave Edmonton's Heritage Festival a much needed boost in attendance numbers, but the Edmonton Food Bank brought in only half it's usual amount of donations at the festival.

Sunny skies brought 135,000 people to the festival on Monday, but food bank donations drop

Clear skies on Monday brought thousands of people out for the final day of the Edmonton Heritage Festival.

Monday's sunny skies gave Edmonton's Heritage Festival a much needed boost in attendance numbers.

Executive Director Jim Gibbon said he was hoping more cultural pavilions and expanding the park would mean a record-breaking attendance for the long weekend festival, especially after a rocky start with the weather. 

On Saturday, organizers were forced to evacuate the park several hours early when the skies opened up. Rain clouds remained hovering on Sunday, but Monday was another story.

Sunny skies brought around 135,000 people to the festival on Monday, the third-highest single day attendance in its history.

"The first two days were down a little bit because of rain," Gibbon said about attendance at the yearly event. "We were really blessed by today's weather after two days of less than ideal conditions."

Around 300,000 people attended the three-day festival this year. 

Weekend rain stopped Edmonton's Food Bank from reaching their goal of 50,000 kilograms in donations at the Heritage Festival.

But a big turnout on Monday wasn't enough for the Edmonton Food Bank.

Spokeswoman Tamisan Bencz-Knight said the food bank came up short at their largest fundraiser of the year.

With a goal of 50,000 kilograms, they collected just half of that in donations by Monday evening.

But there's still another way to fill in the gap. 

"It's can by can, dollar by dollar. And here... it's ticket by ticket," said Bencz-Knight. "Each one of those tickets donated represents 75 cents for the food bank, and last year it was over $50,000 donated through the unused tickets."

We have huge numbers we are trying to provide services for, but we know Edmontonians are good to us.- Tamisan Bencz-Knight, Edmonton Food Bank

This is money that will go to use, as the food bank tries to feed more people than ever before.

"Last year, if you looked at our client numbers, we were sitting at about 15,000 people per month through the hamper program," Bencz-Knight said. 

"Right now we're at about 23,000 people per month. So 2016 has been hard on Edmontonians."

Between the Fort McMurray wildire, supporting Syrian refugees and tough economic times, Bencz-Knight said its been difficult to keep up.

"We have this calamity of issues that snowballed into this one big catastrophe. So we have huge numbers we are trying to provide services for, but we know Edmontonians are good to us," she said.

If the centre does not meet its donation goal, they may have to cut down on hamper sides rather than turn people away.

In addition to collecting unused tickets, food bank donations can be dropped off at any major grocery store until Friday.

You can also donate through the food bank's website.