This week’s announcement that the Illuminaria Lantern Festival has been cancelled came as a shock to many. However, if you take a closer look at the festival, and other popular Mission-based events, the news really isn’t that surprising.
The lantern festival is a victim of its own success. The Mission Association for Community Living (MACL) has done a tremendous job running the event. From its humble beginnings in 2000, when 100 people showed up to light up Fraser River Heritage Park, to last year ,when a crowd of over 5,000 attended, the festival has steadily grown in popularity.
But growth isn’t always a good thing. More volunteers, more organizing, more responsibility, more expectations and – most importantly – more funding are required to keep an event like this going.
Simply put, the festival outgrew its makers.
The question now is do we just abandon the event or try to save it?
Council is looking at options, but should the district help fund the festival or try to find a new organization to take it over? Either way, the future of Illuminaria is clearly in doubt.
If it is to survive, potential organizers may want to take a look at the Mission Folk Music Festival, another local tradition that recently fell on hard times.
The Folk Fest has struggled for funding for some time. As a result, this year’s show has been adjusted to suit a smaller budget.
Admission prices are lower, the acts are more local than in the past and other aspects have been scaled back.
It’s a small step backward in hopes of taking more steps forward in the future.
If Illuminaria does survive, it can benefit from that philosophy.