Residents Rally to Save OrcaFest

Port McNeill residents band together to save a loved event

After the Port McNeill Chamber of Commerce announced it was unable to organize OrcaFest 2015, a Port McNeill resident has stepped up to ensure the event takes place.

Chamber of Commerce President David Mitchell explained in a letter released in May that due to funding cuts, the Chamber is directing attention and resources on reorganizing and restructuring a new “member-driven focus” for the business community.

As a result, Mitchell explained that they would be unable to organize OrcaFest 2015, but invited any members of the community or group to take the lead instead.

Jilly Laviolette has been spending a lot of time at home recently with her two-month old daughter. She noticed through social media posts that OrcaFest was in jeopardy this year, and decided to form a committee to rescue the event.

Laviolette says that she loves her town and has a lot of passion for it, which inspired her to take it upon herself to make OrcaFest work.

Once people found out what she was doing, everybody seemed to want to help. “It has been a huge, overwhelming pouring of support,” she says.

OrcaFest began in 1999 when the Lady Lions and The Chamber of Commerce came together to start a festival, with the early years including a parade, potluck and lemonade stand.  Sixteen years later, Laviolette is trying to retain many of the elements that people love about the festival, while adding new components that make it exciting and fresh.

As Laviolette has just recently become involved, she is not at this time able to give too many concrete plan details, but says that her goal with the “Tides of Change” themed festival is to “bridge the old and the new.”