It was a difficult decision for John Vickers, but one he said had to be made.
Last week, the founder of the Victoria International Kite Festival and the Victoria International Chalk Art Festival announced both events have been cancelled this year.
Terry Wiggill, board chair of the kite society, said in a news release Vickers will also be stepping back from the festivals due to “challenges he has faced in the community in recent months.”
“To be frank, I do feel there has been some injustice on the downtown front, regarding actions to try and derail the (Victoria International Buskers Festival) and to see its success be questioned when truly it is a community and tourism success,” said Vickers in an interview.
“It’s certainly been a disappointment and some discouragement, but you roll with the punches. I’m sorry they (the festivals) won’t be back this year.”
News of the festivals’ suspension follows the cancellation of the Victoria International Buskers Festival, which Vickers also runs, late last year.
Tourism Victoria pulled its funding for the annual festival, which amounted to roughly 25 per cent of the festival’s budget, Vickers said.
“It really took the wind out of our sails. It’s like three children you’ve raised independently. It was difficult to try and pick up the pieces and it’s been a lot of stress,” Vickers said, adding the buskers festival drew more than 150,000 people to the region, annually.
“I just thought it’s better for me and for all to step back for the year and the societies can revisit in the fall as to aspirations for 2018.”
However, another buskers festival has popped up in its place this summer.
In November, the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA), along with Tourism Victoria, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and the Hotel Association of Greater Victoria, announced the addition of the Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival.
The six-day festival will take place on several stages in Victoria from July 11 to 16. There will also be a variety of “busk” stops scattered throughout the downtown.
“Festivals are one of many drivers of visitation to our destination and we are pleased to see a strong organization such as the DVBA lead this initiative,” said Tourism Victoria president and CEO Paul Nursey in a previous release.
Vickers said it has been difficult to accept that a new festival will now greet downtown audiences, but hopes to someday return to the helm of the three festivals.
The fourth annual Victoria International Kite Festival was supposed to run in May at Clover Point, while the sixth annual Victoria International Chalk Art Festival was originally planned to take place by the waterfront in September.
Vickers estimated each festival draws roughly 10,000 to 15,000 tourists and residents to the downtown core.
In the meantime, Vickers will focus his efforts on the Oak Bay pumpkin art display during Halloween.