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Coquitlam to boost $135K into Caribbean, BC Dumpling festivals

Coquitlam is also cutting its Kaleidoscope Arts Festival in August to make way for bigger a Summer Concert Series, as well as more BC Culture Days programming in September.
The Festival Parade winds its way through Caribbean Days celebrations in 2023 at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park. JENNIFER GAUTHIER/TRI-CITY NEWS

Two signature events staged in Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park are expected to get a big cash boost from the city tonight, March 11.

Council is set to award $90,100 for the Caribbean Days Festival in July and $45,000 for the BC Dumpling Festival in August.

The funding bump comes after Marilyn Perrin and Avita Sharman of the Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Society of BC (TTCSBC) told council last October that it needed $90,000 more to pay for rising costs for its large-scale event to be held on July 27 and 28, 2024.

Last June, council also granted an additional $30,000 to the Tri-City Asian Arts and Culture Society for its second annual dumpling fest.

Today, Gina Chong, president of the Tri-City Asian Arts and Culture Society, told the Tri-City News that her group is grateful to the municipality.

"The festival, which celebrates the rich diversity of dumpling cultures, would not be possible without the city's commitment to fostering community engagement and cultural appreciation," she said.

"The City of Coquitlam's support has not only helped us showcase the delicious culinary traditions of dumplings but has also enabled us to create a vibrant and inclusive space for people of all backgrounds to come together and celebrate. From the lively performances to the mouthwatering food offerings, the festival has truly been a testament to the city's dedication to promoting cultural understanding and unity."

Rising costs

Last year, city staff said the festivals and event industry had seen a dramatic rise in the cost of producing events post–pandemic — between 10 to 70 per cent — citing:

  • supply chain challenges
  • fewer suppliers
  • fuel cost
  • inflationary pressures

Coquitlam has two other events that receive signature event money from the city: ScotFestBC and Festival du Bois, which marked its 35th year last weekend.

In a March 4, 2024, report, deputy city manager Michelle Hunt said the Caribbean Days Fest is expected to draw more than 60,000 over two days while the dumpling gathering is set to attract some 30,000 guests — creating massive tourism spin-offs for the city.

Still, as the two festivals get a money push, Coquitlam plans to cut its Kaleidoscope Arts Festival at Town Centre Park in August due low attendance and event fatigue.

However, funding for its Summer Concert Series, as well as BC Culture Days events, will be bolstered, Hunt said.

Today, Eric Kalnins, Coquitlam's manager of ecomomic development, told the Tri-City News that adding the Caribbean Days and BC Dumpling festivals to the city's roster of community-led events in 2022 "has been pivotal, drawing an impressive combined attendance of over 90,000 last year."

"This success is a testament to Coquitlam’s vibrant diversity and regional appeal."