Apple Blossom Festival board considering Kentville's offer to host parade
Festival announced last week that parade was moving to New Minas
The location of this spring's Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival parade is still not finalized.
An agreement has been drawn up and signed by the Town of Kentville to host the parade. But the festival's board hasn't given its final approval.
Last week, the festival announced the parade — which has been held in Kentville for most of the festival's 85 years — was moving to New Minas.
Earlier Thursday, Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow said she felt that the parade, scheduled for May 27, would be staying in Kentville. But by mid-afternoon, the other side still hadn't signed off on the agreement.
"We are hoping that they will sign it once they receive it and then we'll be off to the races, so to speak," Snow said.
Festival reviewing agreement
Festival interim president Alxys Chamberlain said Thursday she was not even aware the town had signed the agreement until her office received a call from the media.
The festival's board was still reviewing the agreement Thursday afternoon, she said.
Organizers said they decided to change the parade route because of difficulties securing police and parks and recreation staff in Kentville.
Snow seemed mystified by the statement.
"As always, the town provides police services, we put our entire staff of public works and recreation to work that day," she said.
In fact, the town contributes well over $45,000 annually in services and labour costs to the festival, she said.
No warning about the parade pullout
The mayor also said there was no advance warning the board was even considering moving the parade.
"I was extremely surprised."
She said hearing the news felt like somebody had punched her in the stomach.
"There was no air left in my body because I couldn't believe … the parade was being pulled out of Kentville.
"This is not something that happens overnight. And if there had been intent to not have it here, then one would have thought that we would have had advanced notice."
Event boosts town's economy
For pubs and cafes, hosting the parade in Kentville "is as good as Christmas shopping day," the mayor said.
"Most of our shops actually close down for the day so that they can enjoy the parade and the festivities," she said.
"Most of our merchants say it's worth closing down but the fact that people have been here, they see their shops … it's that visibility."
The festival draws people from across Nova Scotia.
"They congregate here on that Saturday in May and everything comes to life. It's like no other day of the year when you walk down the street," Snow said.
Relocating the parade from Main Street in Kentville to New Minas would make a huge difference in the event, the mayor said.
"People have their spot and they've been going to the exact same spot since Day 1," Snow said. "It's a wonderful family get together, that's how the whole town feels on parade day."