BeachFest’s organizer Chewstick hopes the event will make its return to Horseshoe Bay, pictured, next year and continue to include a free component.
BeachFest’s organizer Chewstick hopes the event will make its return to Horseshoe Bay, pictured, next year and continue to include a free component.

BeachFest organizer Gavin Smith has said that the Chewstick Foundation and Government are already working on organizing the 2014 event. 

This year’s event was almost cancelled due to “financial challenges and tight deadlines” but was scaled down to one day (rather than two) and moved to Snorkel Park Beach. A cover charge of a $10 ($20 after 7pm) has been added where in previous years the festival was either free or paid for on one of the days. Now in its eighth year, BeachFest’s organizer Chewstick hopes the event will make its return to Horseshoe Bay next year and continue to include a free component. 

However, as a loss-making event, the charity, will have to re-think the “business model” going forward.

Smith said that for various reasons, Chewstick had not obtained the necessary permissions from government in time to solicit the adequate amount of sponsorship. 

“Part of the challenge with events on this scale is that they need to be mapped out constantly and as far in advance as possible. 

“From a sponsorship perspective, they need to know as early as possible in order to be able to commit the most amount of funding support and also to maximise their aims which is to get more attention to their brand and product.”

Chewstick also ran into permission problems earlier this year with its Good Friday KiteFest event claiming that the Parks Department had not responded to its application to host the event. The Parks Department said that it had not received the application and at the very last minute permissions were fast-tracked so the event could go ahead.

He also said that there had been some negative reaction to a small fight that broke out at the event in 2010 which he compares to “fights you see on Front Street every week.”

Costs for security have doubled since that event and Smith says relations with the Bermuda Police Service have significantly
improved.

Smith continued: “Some of the goals we have in mind are to actively seek out sponsorship much earlier. 

“It has been great working with government of late on the other side of the KiteFest scenario because now we have all the different stakeholders on the same page. 

“We have a lot of the logistical things in place to ensure the event can be stronger and more successful comprehensively like gates, a security perimeter, an active anti-trash and underage drinking policy. These are essential to make the event world class and get the support of sponsors generally.

“We finally got to that position with government this year but it was just too late. 

“For these scale events you need to talk to sponsors at the very least six months in advance.

“We can’t solicit sponsors until we get those permissions in hand. 

“We had less than six months so once again permissions become the main challenge. 

“This is something we have finally got worked out we have permissions from Parks lined up for 2014 and beyond. We have the full support of the Premier and the Minister to collectively work on it throughout the year. ”

Smith said another reason to scale back the event this year was due to the event making a “significant” loss. 

“Part of the reason we have to pull out of the BeachFest Classic is that our bigger priority is the Chewstick Foundation — it has never been about just a fun day at the beach it is about celebrating local culture and local talent really breaking down social barriers.

“Last year became the first year that we lost a significant amount of money — the event lost upwards of $20k. Fundamentally a big part of our challenge is to optimise the event to stand on its own — it can’t affect the budget of the Chewstick Foundation.”

Asked whether Chewstick will continue to charge for the event in future years Smith said: “Generally the BeachFest Classic is built off of a long standing tradition of going to the beach on the first day of Cup Match and we would like to honour that tradition by keeping it free
going forward.

“Next year is a different scenario. For us, 2014 looks better than ever particularly thanks to the full support we have from the government, particularly as we are going to be working together to seek and receive the vital sponsorship that will be needed to take it to the next level.”

This years event entitled BeachFest Emancipation Jouvert Party will take place on Thursday, August 1, from 12pm to 3am the next morning. 

This year for the first time Beachfest will have a cover charge which will be $10 during the day, and then $20 after 7pm and will include all activities and entertainment. 

Food and beverage will be on sale of Snorkel Park, and the entire facility will be transformed to “capture the Beachfest spirit”.

It will feature the same activities and entertainment including Volleyball, Wacky Races (Wheel Barrow, Sprints, Piggy-Back etc.), Tug-o-War, and for the first time - One Bounce and Swimming Races, all for prizes. 

A few of the acts slated to perform are DIA, Rivah, Uzimon, Crazy Wednesdays, The Ukeladies, Cami Cam to name a few. 

DJs on hand to keep the party going well into the night are DJ Chubb, DJ Castro (NYC), DJ Agile (TO), Lenky Bwoy Movements, DJ Kade, DJ TanZ and more. Organizers are also working towards getting a late night ferry back to Hamilton though that is not yet confirmed. n

For more information visit www.bermudabeachfest.com or call 292 2439.