The 2019 Christmas Festival was profitable overall, even though sales were down over expectations. The financial report was released Feb. 18.
“Overall we’re really happy about how it went,” said Lee Waskom.
Advance sales for arm bands were up versus last year, but e-commerce is steadily growing. Waskom said the Christmas Festival Committee needs to dedicate itself to upgrading technology. They will research ways to do this during the spring focusing on website purchasing for arm bands and green tickets. An upgrade of this caliber would take a significant investment.
Something else that will have to be addressed is a growing desire from the public to see more individual events set up while the festival is going on. They want more things to do on Saturdays, more entertainment Friday through Saturday, and more events during the weeks throughout the festival season.
“We’ve hit critical mass with what the festival has to offer,” said Waskom. “This gives us an opportunity to step up our game. We’ll have to feel out from our guests what they want and we’ll keep running with the winners.”
The synthetic ice skating rink was not a winner, but the Cookies with Santa event with the Service League of Natchitoches was a massive hit. While there’s no kids fest on festival day versus every other weekend, it’s become quite popular. Parents enjoy having something for the kids to do.
Santa Claud Lane also received a face lift. The Christmas Festival gave the City $8,500 for this project which created a lighted archway for visitors to enter through before visiting with Santa.
In other business, EMS services were added for the first time. This means an EMT is set up to the right of the riverbank stage to assist any festival goers should they need medical attention.
The second weekend of the season was busier than festival day. While arm band sales were down $10,000 on festival weekend, they were up $24,000 on other weekends. Waskom said festival day was down overall versus past years, which was partly due to the LSU Championship game drawing in a lot of people.
“The overall request is for us to up our game a bit with technological access and continuous entertainment,” said Waskom. “We have a distinct advantage with the riverbank area, overall ambience of the downtown, and one of the best firework shows in the country. It’s not the biggest but it has the best production quality. We’ll continue tweaking things to make it better for everyone.”
Festival Committee Member