The Pacific Rim Whale Festival needs your help.
The volunteer board that puts the West Coast’s popular springtime event together is dwindling and, without reinforcements, board member Marilyn McEwen fears next year’s 32nd annual festival may be the last.
“I don’t want to see this festival end. It’s been going for more than 25 years but, without people putting their names forward to help on the board, it is going to end,” she said. “If people don’t come forward to join the board, this could be the last year.”
She said the Pacific Rim Whale Festival Society’s board of directors has 12 portfolios to handle, but consistently runs at half-capacity.
“There’s 12 hats that directors can wear and in the last few years we’ve only had six directors on the board,” she said. “That puts a real strain on the coordinator because any of those hats that a director’s not wearing gets put onto the coordinator.”
She said the board only has three active members currently and taking on the work of 12 is burning them out.
“The board plans the entire festival and they start in November so by the time the festival comes around in March everything is in place,” she said. “Everything needs to be planned ahead of time.”
She added putting the two-week festival together is tough work, but offers rewarding opportunities for anyone willing to put the time in.
“We want people that are willing to roll up their sleeves,” she said adding she’s hoping to see representation from both Ucluelet and Tofino as well as a more buy-in from local organizations like local Destination Marketing Organizations and chambers of commerce.
“All those entities, one-by-one, have just sort of dropped off…It would be great to have buy-in from those entities again because that really helps with licensing and making sure that everything in both towns is running the way it needs to.”
She added it would be great to see local businesses get more involved and help support the event that pours visitors into hotels, restaurants and shops during the offseason.
“Spring break does bring people here, but it’s still kind of wintery. The weather can go any which way in March so it’s not necessarily that the hotels are going to be full because it’s not high season yet,” she said adding the festival is “a way to kick off the tourist season and get people here.”
Anyone interested in getting involved can attend the Pacific Rim Whale Festival Society’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. inside the Black Rock Resort’s Wine Cellar or reach out through the festival’s website.
McEwen said joining the board is a great way for locals to immerse themselves in their community.
“The reason I joined the board 20 years ago was because I was new to town and I thought, ‘What better way to meet people than to put my name forward for a board of directors for a festival that sounded like it would be really fun to plan?’” she said. “It’s a super festival for locals and visitors alike.”
The festival includes a variety of activities and events including the popular Chowder Chowdown competition.