Wildfoods loses money

By Rebekah Fraser

For the first time in its 24-year history the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival has run at a loss as ticket sales slumped to 8800.
The Westland District Council announced yesterday the festival had a “negative variance” of $35,709, with some further overhead charges yet to come.
Chief executive Tanya Winter said the financial performance was primarily affected by lower than budgeted revenue from ticket sales.
A total of 8804 tickers were sold to the 2013 festival, a considerable drop from the 10,839 sold last year.
“Earlier reports indicating attendance of 13,000 people at the event incorrectly included tickets printed for sale but not actually sold,” Ms Winter said.
Grant revenue for the festival was also down, but this was balanced by a “significant increase” in revenue from campsites.
Event manager Mike Keenan noted in a report to the council that the economic impact to the local economy was estimated at more than $6 million, with the majority of the spending coming from outside the West Coast.
“This is a feature of the Wildfoods Festival, with most of the other large festivals predominantly attracting local crowds.”
He said attendance figures had fluctuated each year, although since the Canterbury earthquakes numbers had fallen significantly. The festival had also struggled with securing a major cash sponsor.
Ms Winter said the report focused solely on the 2013 result and not about the future of the event.
“There is no recommendation about whether or not we continue with it. I guess councillors could come back and ask for more information, but at the moment we are focusing on this year’s result.”
The report will be discussed at the monthly council meeting, on Thursday.