Summer in the City (SITC) is planning to be bigger and better than last year, while cutting costs. 

Representatives from the festival presented in front of Steinbach City Council at the Strategic Priorities Committee meeting on Tuesday evening. 

In 2023, SITC had a total income of $390,000 and a total expense of $415,000, making for a loss of $25,000. 

Carla Campbell, SITC Festival Coordinator, says the result had a lot to do with the increase in expenses. 

“Our tent rentals went up quite a bit, so this year I'm trying to manage that a little bit more by going with a different company for more of our rentals,” she says. “We're also decreasing some of the width of the rentals to allow a little bit more street space in the fire lane section of things. But changing our supplier has brought down some of those costs quite a bit.” 

Carly Koop, Director of Sponsorship, adds that it can be difficult to find a balance between saving money and supporting local. 

“One of the stressors I think we feel we have to work within is supporting our local businesses while trying to keep costs down, sometimes there is a slight conflict there. It's a puzzle that we sometimes have to piece together.” 

Audrey Harder, Board Chair of SITC, says they are doing really well with their budget this year. 

“We're still looking forward to our usual grants that we get, we're applying for a lot more whenever we can. We've been doing really well with sponsorship and having a lot of support there.” 

Along with saving money, they increased the cost and fees for both the vendors and tickets this year. 

Harder says as long as ticket sales go as well as in recent years, they are projecting to see an income. 

More of their major expenses are the facility and set-up area. Harder says this year they are not going to have the stage up all day on Sunday to cut costs. 

“Right after the Worship in the City, that will shut down and they're going to do all of their other stuff from a different stage that will be along where the street arts are.” 

She says that after the 2024 festival, they are hoping to move some money back into the emergency fund. 

“Just to make sure we're keeping that growing because you never know when you are going to get a rainy day.” 

SITC has also managed to cut the marketing budget for 2024 by almost $11,000. 

Koop says in past years they have spent a lot on signage, which can’t be reused because it's specific to the year.  

As signs take up a big part of the budget, they made an investment last year in trying to keep their signs as generic as possible. 

"So we have a huge storehouse now of banners that will last forever because they're not really specific. The large signage is very, very costly, and trying to work on sponsorship with that as well. Our local businesses are very generous, but we still have to pay.” 

They receive 20 percent of the income from ticket sales from Wonder Shows. Last year, SITC made $44,000 from Wonder Shows ticket sales. 

Graham Pollock, Festival Operations Chair, says Ken Kiernicki with Wonder Shows would love to expand the festival. 

“If we could give him the geography to expand, he would expand. He talked to us last year about going down Elmdale if we could close that, but we can't. That's the emergency access for the fire department and ambulances.” 

He adds that they have an agreement with Wonder Shows that dads who go on rides with their kids on Sunday, or Father’s Day, the father rides free. 

“We've done that for three or four years now and I think Ken has noticed a difference in his ticket sales for the Sunday versus what they were before.” 

Harder says concert tickets nearly sold out last year for the 2023 festival.  

Last year they also increased their seating capacity and got rid of the VIP section, which they noticed works better. 

“Mostly because people who had VIP seats weren't even sitting in there, and we found that it would sit there and people behind couldn't see through. And it wasn't as popular as it had been at one time when everybody could sit right in the front.” 

In 2023 they had a few vendors not show up. Harder says this year they have resolved the issue by requiring a deposit for application.  

“There's some specific ones that we were really disappointed that they didn't show up, but we're hoping they will be there this year.” 

She says they have also helped with getting vendors signed up by approving them faster. 

“Because if we wait till the very end, till mid-April, some of those vendors already found other spots, so we're going to get them ahead of time.” 

Campbell says a lot of vendors are requesting to come to Steinbach, especially food vendors. 

"They do a bulk of their sales on this weekend and we're one of the first events that they hit in the season, so they want to make sure that they have that lined up.” 

Harder says the beer gardens were quite popular last year, so they are excited to have that set up again. 

“We're just looking at showcasing it differently so the cultures area will benefit more from it. And of course, cultures is always very popular, so we're looking at having more seating in the area, some covers, some areas where people can stay cool as well.” 

She adds this year they want to throw Steinbach its biggest birthday party to celebrate 150 years of this city. 

“We're hoping for birthday cake, balloons, all sorts of stuff.”