Locals eye Port Moody for Oktoberfest and 'Christkindlmarkt' winter fest

Is Port Moody a too-fun city?

Squeezed in among the popular Golden Spike Days, Summer Sundays concert series, Wave Festival, Youth ArtsFest, the Food Truck Festival, Culture Days and RibFest could be three new events that were considered at Tuesday's council meeting.

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Residents and visitors could be dining on schnitzel and doffing pints of pilsner from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9 if Jamie Bergen and Fred Ledlin get their way. The local duo — Ledlin is a Coquitlam resident who played professional hockey in Germany about 30 years ago — are hoping to put on an Oktoberfest celebration that could attract up to 15,000 people to the Knowle Street/Pioneer Park area, complete with authentic "oompah" music, German food and beer.

And they're not stopping there. Ledlin and Bergen are also planning a "Christkindlmarkt" winter festival that would run from Nov. 17 to Dec. 28, also with a German winter village theme, that could draw some 60,000 visitors (based on about 1,500 per evening).

The pair said they are self-financing both events and will direct any surplus to the Eagle Ridge Hospital, and all that's needed are city approvals.

Also on the agenda was a request from Burrard Inlet Fish Festival organizer Jay Peachey, with a request for about $24,000 in city funding for the three-day event featuring live music, First Nations performers and more. The fourth annual event will take place Aug. 12 to 14 (in the past, it has been at the end of September); council also approved similar dates for 2017, along with $17,000 in funding for this year.

Council also considered a request from Corey Hawkins and Clyde Hill, who are asking for up to $40,000 in funding for an Inlet Music Festival on Aug. 27. Their proposal was deferred until staff could gather further information on the event.

Coun. Diana Dilworth, chair of the city's tourism committee, said events and festivals such as these are a key part of promoting Port Moody as a tourism destination — one of the top priorities in council's strategic plan.

"The great thing about the festivals and events taking place in Port Moody is that they're being conceptualized and implemented and operated by community groups," Dilworth said. "It really gives the city the opportunity to sit back and support what's taking place."

And she said that, far from the social calendar getting too jam-packed, there is still room to grow.

"Residents want more festivals and family events and things to do in their backyard," Dilworth said. "These types of events… bring the community together, so in terms of enhancing the sense of community and uniqueness of Port Moody, this is one way of making that happen."

Port Moody's somewhat passive strategy differs from that of Coquitlam council, which is building a large outdoor venue on the eastern shore of Lafarge Lake — at a cost of nearly $3 million — to attract crowds for big events such as Canada Day. The controversial amphitheatre will seat 900 people (with an option to increase it to 1,300) in stepped semi-circular seating around a stage and is designed to be a "showpiece" for the city. But public consultation showed only half of respondents were in favour of the project and many residents remain concerned about the noise levels both within the park and in surrounding areas.

spayne@tricitynews.com
@spayneTC

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