tour de Fort’s future on thin ice Passports on sale now

FORT FRANCES—After going strong for 10 years, the “tour de Fort” concert series may not live to see its 11th season if more passports aren’t sold in the next couple of weeks.
“We’re very close this year to having to cancel ‘tour de Fort’ and maybe stop the whole ‘tour de Fort’ process altogether,” acting director Gary Rogozinski warned Thursday morning.
“We’ve only sold about half our passports,” he said. “We have to sell probably another 150 passports in order to make the season go.
“If we don’t sell them, we’ll be many thousands of dollars in the hole,” Rogozinski continued. “We won’t be able to operate in a deficit mode.
“We’re a very small group,” he explained. “We have a little bit in reserves but not enough to cover all of the deficit.”
Rogozinski stressed that if passport sales don’t increase soon, the board may have to call it quits.
“It’s getting to the point where we have to make a decision at the end of the month: Do we cancel or do we go on?
“And if we cancel one year, I doubt it would ever go again; not unless another group got together to try and do it,” he said.
Rogozinski noted passports have been on sale for a while, and that board members have been calling previous passport-holders to see if they want to renew them for the 2006-07 season.
But the response has been less than expected so far.
“I don’t know if people just haven’t been thinking about it or if they’re not interested,” said Rogozinski. “I know we’ve got a whole bunch of new [passport-holders]. But we used to always get the same people year after year. They just renewed their passports.
“It was really hard to get passports [in past years]. Now, it’s gone the other way and we can’t get rid of them.
“We’ve got a fantastic line-up with great names. I just can’t understand why people aren’t buying passports,” he added.
“Our first show is Sept. 26—a month away— and like I said, if we can’t sell at least 150 more passports, we could close ‘tour de Fort’ this year and maybe abandon the . . . entertainment series altogether.”
Passports for the 2006-07 season, which features six shows, cost $95 each.
They are available on-line at www.tourdefort.com, from Barb MacDonell (274-2544), at the Fort Frances Public Library and The Corner Closet in Emo, as well as every Saturday at the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market here.
This year’s line-up includes:
•fiddling sensations Fidello (Sept. 26);
•country stars John Berry and Diane Chase (Oct. 2);
•swing/folk/roots artists Polyjesters (Oct. 20);
•earthy blues musicians Harry Manx and Michael Kaeshammer (Nov. 9);
•blues singers Sue Foley and Roxanne Potvin (March 5); and
•pop icon Ian Thomas (April 13).
All concerts start at 7:30 p.m. at the Townshend Theatre, unless otherwise noted.
In related news, Rogozinski also said the “tour de Fort” board does not have enough directors. At least three are needed after some long-time ones (five- to 10-year members) have left in the past year.
“It’s good to have a turnaround. New ideas, new thoughts, new ways of doing things,” he noted. “But right now, we’re short three directors.
“We realize it’s hard to volunteer for everything, but this is a real fun group and we’re looking for directors,” he continued. “It’s not as time-consuming as a lot of other boards might be.”
The “tour de Fort” board meets about eight times per year, with meetings usually running between one hour and an hour-and-a-half.
A good chance for someone new to jump on is when the board holds its annual general meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Pizza Connection.
Everyone is welcome to attend.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)

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