Tall ships Festival coming to town

 

By Karen Fallon

Described as a huge economic and tourism driver for host ports the Southwest Shores Tall Ships Festival is looking to come to Amherstburg in the summer of 2013.

As 2013 is the anniversary of the “Battle of Lake Erie” Tall Ships America, in cooperation with the province of Ontario, is organizing a Pan-Provincial Tall Ships Challenge. As many as 25 international vessels are expected to participate.

At the May 14 council meeting a presentation by Dean Collver, director of recreation and culture and Anne Rota manager of culture and tourism, defined the municipality’s role in the event.

The town will be known as a port organizer when it enters into an agreement with the Tall Ships of America Association to become the facilitator of Amherstburg’s portion of the “Southwest Shores Tall Ships Festival.”

Amherstburg is looking to collaborate with Kingsville, Leamington and Windsor to develop a regional “Southwest Shores Tall Ships Festival in accordance with the Tall Ships America mandate.

The Tall Ships will be in the Windsor Essex Detroit region from August 30 to September 1, 2013. The Kings Navy Yard Park would be the primary location for the Amherstburg visit.

Rota and Collver were seeking council’s approval for a budget of $25,000. Amherstburg’s port fee is set at $5,000 beyond that it is estimated that the cost of the festival will be $20,000.

“I think we can confidently say at this point is that there will be zero cost impact to Amherstburg for the festival,” said Collver, while noting several initiatives to bring in funds.

Amherstburg’s department of recreation and culture is looking to off-set the cost via “creative ideas” based on collaboration with the communities partnering with Amherstburg.

One of these initiatives is the Southwest Shores Tall Ships Festival in which the administration team will develop a marketing plan to include such features as a region wide “boarding pass” which will have one ticket price and allow people to access the Tall Ships from any of the communities hosting them.

Locally this could be a “Sip n’ Sail” version of the boarding pass that will feature local wineries to encourage such things as wine tastings.

Merchandising would be another area to be explored.

Overall the Tall ships initiative will cost $1.3 million that is dependent on a pan-provincial “block-buster” grant to sponsor and cover the fees of the ships to the tune of $100,000.

Amherstburg’s involvement in the enterprise is contingent on success of the grant.

“If the grant is not forthcoming the project will be cancelled,” said Collver in his report.

Should the application be successful the Tall Ships will be in the Windsor Essex Detroit region from August 30 to September 1, 2013. The Kings Navy Yard Park would be the primary location for the Amherstburg visit.

Apart from the provincial grant a private sponsor has been “sought out” to issue $135,000 based on province-wide exposure.

According to Collver’s report, the festival will encourage a positive impact for the local economy and tourism stakeholders during the voyage of the Tall Ships as they journey through the Great Lakes.

Amherstburg has been chosen to host both a class A ship which will be in excess of 130-feet and class B ship as part of the tour.

Councillor Bart DiPasquale says he is looking forward to the “exciting venture.”

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