Fredericton — A winter festival that has delighted New Brunswick residents and tourists alike since 2002 is shutting down next year, and the reason is that the event is not sufficiently “social media friendly” to be worth the effort and cost.
The government pulled $60,000 worth of grants that Winterfest relied on to survive, said organizer Brianne Jarvis. “We got a letter saying that, unfortunately, the province is ‘unable’ — more like unwilling — to support an event that does not have the ‘hashtaggable’ appeal on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to be worth their while. The letter basically said that last year hardly anyone Instagrammed the things going on at the festival, and because hashtags are New Brunswick’s bread and butter, we clearly aren’t offering anything valuable to the public.”
The Manatee interviewed the provincial department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture about the cancelled festival.
“In all the years Winterfest has been going on here in Fredericton, not one viral video has emerged — not a single one!” exclaimed Tourism New Brunswick spokesperson Neil Allen, who was wearing a “#ExploreNB” toque inside his office cubicle. “Now, tell me how we can justify supporting something so unpopular on the Internet?”
Allen went on to say that because the word “Winterfest” contains a single character more than the city’s competing “FROSTival,” it is less likely to be tweeted.
“#Winterfest is one letter longer than #FROSTival. When you’re visiting and you want to tweet about your experience or share an Instagram photo on Twitter, you’ve only got 140 characters to use toward getting likes and followers. That one character could be used for a whole other hashtag symbol,” explained Allen.
“We received many complaints last year from key tastemakers in the area that #Winterfest just wasn’t suited for social media. When a tastemaker tells you to do something, you do it — that’s called ‘taste.’ So we decided to just get rid of Winterfest altogether and save everyone the confusion of whether it was part of FROSTival or its own separate thing.
“Besides,” he concluded, “we needed the $60,000 for that snow-making machine in Sugarloaf… now there’s a hashtag for you! #SnowmakingatSugarloaf.”