I've spent part of this morning reading through the comments we received about the Kansas City Irish Fest just completed. Some positive, some negative, all valuable as we begin preparing for Irish Fest 2008. If you were kind enough to write, I hope that you've gotten a personal reply from one of us by now. If not, we're working on it. I thought I'd take a minute here to address a few questions or comments that came up more than once.
1. The Saturday night crowd. By far, this was the number one topic of e-mail received. We are happy to report that a whole lot of people had a whole lot of fun at this year's Kansas City Irish Fest. There were records crowds all three days, by our estimates 40,000 on Saturday. We are not so happy to report that several hundred of our friends were inconvenienced by larger-than-expected crowds on Saturday night, and disappointed that they could not get to see and hear all of the Elders show. The festival board, committees and volunteers sincerely appreciate everyone's patience and cooperation Saturday night, as gates to the Terrace level at Crown Center had to be shut for approximately half an hour to ensure the safety of the crowd of families vying for space on the lawn in front of the Terrace Stage. Thanks to Crown Center Security, KCPD and the KCFD Fire Marshal for their cooperation and fast action. Our sincere apologies to those people who were inconvenienced, or briefly separated from friends and family members while the overcrowding problem was corrected. Every effort will be made to expand accommodations at Irish Fest next year.
2. The Venue. Let's dispense with this one right away. We will not, as was suggested by a few people, be moving out of Crown Center. We have room there to grow and lots of ideas for better use of the space. We love Crown Center and plan on staying there as long as they'll have us. While it may be difficult to believe, our goal isn't unlimited growth. It's become a bit of a cliche around here, but true nonetheless: we strive to be the best, not the biggest.
3. Limit Ticket Sales. Heard this one several times. Treat it like a sporting event. Figure out the capacity of the place, sell that many tickets and stop. Problem solved. Okay. Here's why that won't work. First, what's capacity? Twenty five square feet of Terrace Level lawn can hold 12 people standing. Or 8 folding chairs. Or it can hold one guy on a blanket. Which one will it be? We're open for 12 hours a day. How do we know when people are arriving? How do we know when people are leaving? How do we know on which stage the band they came to see is performing? How do we know when they might get up and move? Our tickets, with the exception of the half price Friday ticket, aren't day specific. How do we know who's coming on Saturday? Who's coming on Sunday? For that matter, how do we know if they're coming at all? I could go on, but I think I've made my point. We're not like a sporting event or a traditional concert. We can't ticket Irish Fest as if we were.
4. Noise Levels. Many of you complained of excess volume at the Terrace Stage and poor sound quality at the Boulevard Stage. We hear you loud and clear (ha!). Both of those issues will be addressed next year.
5. Cost of Children's Activities. Another issue we'll be looking hard at. We try very hard to keep our event affordable for families. This year a few of you thought we came up short in that department and felt you were nickled and dimed...or more accurately dollar-billed to death. We'll be working over the winter to stream line and lower costs on the activities we provide for kids. I would ask a little indulgence on the issue of cost in general. A handful of people complained that they got "nothing" for their $10 admission. Every year, somebody complains that Irish Fest should be free. "I've been to lots of free concerts!" they'll say. I say, have you been to 37 free concerts in one weekend? Because that's what you're asking us to provide. Putting on the Kansas City Irish Fest costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every year. Sponsorships, as much as we love and value them, don't come close to covering our costs. We have to pay the bills, or there is no Irish Fest. We think that $10 a day (and of course only $8 if you buy in advance) is pretty reasonable for the quality of entertainment we provide. This year, with advance ticket purchases you could have seen three days full of your choices of those 37 performances for $21. Over priced? Doesn't seem so to me.
Again, to those who took the time to write and express your opinions, thank you. To those who wrote just to say thanks for a great weekend, you're more than welcome. To those who had constructive criticism, we're listening and appreciate it. If you have something to say yourself, please feel free. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post a comment here on the blog.