Welcome news

With slow passport sales threatening the future of the long-running “Tour de Fort” entertainment series here, there was welcome news this morning when board president Ken Avis announced there will be a 19th season after all.
But “Tour de Fort” clearly isn’t out of the woods just yet. Mr. Avis conceded the board fell short of the number of passports needed to be sold to ensure the series’ future viability and warned the 2011-12 season, while going ahead, could well feature a reduced lineup of shows.
As such, he reiterated a call to purchase tickets for some or all of the remainder of the 2010-11 season so “Tour de Fort” can continue to bring in top-notch entertainment district residents otherwise would have to travel to larger cities to see.
How times have changed. Almost 20 years ago, when former resident Dr. Ted Jablonski spearheaded the push to create “Tour de Fort,” season passports sold out shortly after they went on sale—leaving few, if any, individual tickets available at the door. And that was when shows were held in the former J.A. Mathieu Auditorium (a.k.a. the old high school gym) and the old Robert Moore School gym.
In fact, the popularity of “Tour de Fort” was a major driving force behind construction of the Townshend Theatre—a state-of-the-art venue offering a first-class concert/play experience for the audience and performers alike. Yet despite this, waning interest has left the series on thin ice.
To its credit, the board is trying to turn things around, primarily by now offering “Pick 3” and individual ticket options rather than just season passports. That way, people who may not be interested in all the acts, or who head south for the winter, still can support “Tour de Fort” without having to lock in for the full season.
“Tour de Fort” always has offered an eclectic mix of performers each season, and the hard-working volunteers behind it should be commended for offering district residents a chance to expand their musical tastes while showcasing (and hopefully encouraging) up-and-coming Canadian talent.
It would be a shame to see “Tour de Fort” fall by the wayside. But like everything else, if the community thinks it’s important to preserve, people have to rally behind it.