CANSO: The Stan Rogers Folk Festival has taken place on the first weekend of July since it was founded 20 years ago, but organizers have announced that starting next year, the festival will be moved to the end of the month.

“It’s something we’ve contemplated for the past five or six years,” said Troy Greencorn, artistic director.

The dates for Stanfest in 2018 will be July 26 through 29. Greencorn told The Reporter that the decision was based on several considerations, including weather, scheduling concerns, and economic impact.

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“Weather has been a big factor. Four years ago, we had a hurricane that required us to cancel the whole event less than two days out,” said Greencorn.

The 2014 storm was a major setback for the festival, which is still in the process of recovering. However, it was not the only time organizers have had to contend with a cold, wet festival weekend. This past year, heavy rains once again impacted the festival, forcing several performances to move inside.

“Even for the most diehard Stanfest goers, it’s a hard decision to go and sit in the rain for the day, so it does have an impact,” said Greencorn. “We’re making an educated gamble that at the end of July, our luck will be better.”

Greencorn said the original date also impacted the decision. When the festival was founded, organizers selected the first weekend in July because it did not conflict other major national or regional festivals. Greencorn noted that over the years, many new festivals have been added to the calendar, including the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, which also occurs in early July.

“If we were to stay with that date for the next three to four years, we would be on the same weekend as Cavendish, which is not strategic,” said Greencorn.

Organizers are hopeful that the overall economic impact of the festival will be increased by the date change. Greencorn pointed out that tourist traffic does not reach its peak until later in July. He believes that if more visitors to Nova Scotia make the festival part of their vacation itinerary, they may stay in the area for a longer period of time, which will benefit the entire area.

“When the festival started, it was very much an economic development project for Canso. If one thinks back to that time, in ’96 and ’97, it was the deep, dark days of the fisheries collapse. So a big part of why we started was to inject dollars into the economy,” said Greencorn.

Greencorn said a 2015 assessment study by the province found that the festival had an impact of $3.6 million on the local economy. He said time will tell exactly what effect the change will have, but he noted the reaction to the announcement has been very positive and he believes this is a good sign. He pointed out that the festival has shown recovery since 2014, and is approaching an ideal size of 4,000–5,000 visitors per day.

“Some people have wondered if the festival can take another kick, and of course, we can and we will,” said Greencorn.

“It’s not just about the festival… it’s so important to Canso and Guysborough County, and our partners are there with us every step of the way.”

Tickets and campsites for Stanfest 2018 are available now at www.stanfest.com, and organizers hope to announce the full lineup of musicians before the end of the year.