Poor sales cancels Atlas’ KaboomFest

Last modified: 9/17/2014 7:20:18 PM
Atlas Pyrovision Productions has announced the cancellation of its inaugural KaboomFest Fall Fireworks Festival scheduled for Oct. 11.

The event was scheduled to be held at the Cheshire Fair Grounds in Swanzey and would have been the second fireworks festival Atlas put on in the Monadnock region this year, following the return of the Festival of Fireworks in August.

August’s Festival of Fireworks was the first to be held at the Cheshire Fair Grounds location, after a 2012 bomb threat, which caused security concerns that canceled the event at Jaffrey’s Silver Ranch Airpark, where the show had been held for 23 years.

The primary reasons for the cancellation of KaboomFest were slower than anticipated online ticket sales, lack of time remaining to organize volunteers, availability of vendors and inability to reduce costs due to lower than anticipated turnout, according to Atlas CEO Stephen Pelkey.

August’s Festival of Fireworks was attended by roughly 10,000 people, Pelkey said in an interview Wednesday. In years past, the festival packed Jaffrey’s Silver Ranch Airpark with up to 28,000 to 30,000, according to Pelkey, who also said that with these large numbers came security concerns that Atlas could not overcome at the Jaffrey location.

“It was difficult for a lot of people to get into the online ticketing process. We knew it would be a smaller audience, because the [fair grounds] venue is half the size,” Pelkey said Wednesday.

Following the 2012 bomb threat and other security concerns over the years, Atlas moved to online ticket sales this year, in hopes of better gauging the number of people planning to attend.

“We moved to online ticket sales this year, because we wanted to eliminate currency on site. This helped lower security costs. Festival production has to get with the times in order to have a safe and enjoyable festival. We were able to have the show with less attendees due to lower costs, because of the fenced in facility, making public safety easier,” explained Pelkey.

The Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce stepped down from co-hosting the August event, but still contributed volunteers and benefited from the proceeds, but much less than as in years past. The chamber is no longer the primary beneficiary.

With KaboomFest, Atlas had the goal of drawing people to the Monadnock region during the peak foliage season, with the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival scheduled for the following weekend.

“A big aspect of festival production is promoting general economic health of the area. As always, Atlas was donating the fireworks, and nonprofits were set to make profits from show,” said Pelkey.

The nonprofits that were set to benefit from the KaboomFest included the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary, Monadnock High School lacrosse, Northern Lights Cheerleaders, St. Patrick School and the Jaffrey Legion, according to Pelkey, who noted the same nonprofit groups volunteered at the August festival and benefited from it as well.

According to the statement announcing KaboomFest’s cancellation, Atlas knew that hosting two shows in an eight-week period was a lofty goal, and the company has revised plans for next year.

“Rather than produce two separate festivals in August and October, our plan is to produce a two-day festival in August to include hosting a Class C Consumer fireworks competition on the night before the main event. This has been one of our goals over the years to produce this competition on the weekend of the festival.”

According to Atlas, refunds were immediately processed for those who had purchased online tickets for KaboomFest. “Our focus and efforts will be squarely on producing a bigger and better event in August. The 2015 Monadnock Festival of Fireworks is scheduled for Aug. 15, 2015,” said Pelkey.

Dylan Fisher can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235, or dfisher@ledgertranscript.com.


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