I hate to do this, but I am going to have to. I was underwhelmed by the Victoria Tallships 2008. I love sailing ships, I love the beauty of the tallships, but I was simply not that thrilled at this event.
I hate to be doing this because there are so many volunteers that worked so hard on the event, I also hate to do this because there are so many in this town that pride of the event. But, when it was all said and done, I was not impressed.
The dumb idea award has to go to the person who decided to have coupons for the food at all the stalls. These were non refundable coupons you had to buy at a festival stall before you could go buy any food. I was expected to stand in line to buy the coupons and guess how much I would need for my horde. This was fundamentally flawed and makes the festival look like it is money grubbing.
The ships were cool enough, but the idea if paying $15 per person to see a handful of ships I can not see at other times seemed excessive to me. I can understand the need to charge the money, but $75 for a family of five is not my cup of tea.
The site felt more like I was at the Government street market with all these vendors selling 'trinkets'. I would liked to have seen a lot more informative booths - demonstrations of the skills needed to build and maintain a tallship. Paying money to be able to to a site and be sold things I have no interest in is something that bugs me.
An event that appeals a lot more to me is the Victoria Classic Boat Festival. This takes place each year at the end of August. A number of the ships at the tallships festival will also be at the Classic Boat Festival, though not the big ones. The atmosphere of the Classic Boat Festival is much more inviting and open to the public. This is an event put together by the owners of the boats to show them off to the world, and they do a great job of it.
Tallships has the mock battles, which might be exciting if you are out on the water but is not much to see from the land. The Classic Boat Festival has the sailpast and the Steamboat parade up the Gorge - you get a great view of them on the Selkirk Trestle.
Tallships feels like what the Folkfest turned into, an event focused on the money and not the community. An event that makes tourism operators drool and the locals stay away.
Ultimately for my boys it was all about the foam swords, though they do seem interested in SALTS.