Big crowds boost Sunfest

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Alfredo Caxaj, the executive director of Sunfest, likes to boast how the music festival brings the world to London.

Now he can boast how the four-day event in Victoria Park brought the biggest crowds to London.

“I could easily say on Saturday, over 50,000 people went through the park,” he told The Free Press Monday.

He estimates it was the biggest crowd in Sunfest’s 23-year history. “Saturday was the largest day, period,” he added.

“I would say easily 200,000 walked through the park,” from Thursday to Saturday, Caxaj said. Since Sunfest is a free event, there are no firm ticket numbers, so Caxaj talks to volunteers and vendors before arriving at an attendance figure after the event has closed down for another summer. Some of the people he counts were repeat visitors over the course of the weekend.

“We started very strong on Thursday. Unfortunately, on Friday, we lost the evening” due to rain — the second year in a row there has been a thunderstorm on Sunfest Friday, he noted. “Sunday was another beautiful, strong day.”

“You always have dreams, no question about that. But when you see those dreams realized, that’s another thing entirely,” he said, looking back to the festival’s modest beginnings.

He and his team of 450 volunteers are now looking forward to next summer, and beyond that, the 25th anniversary edition of Sunfest in 2019. His planning motto is always to build the event “slowly but surely.”

There is talk of Sunfest expanding out into the streets surrounding Victoria Park by Year 25. That would allow Sunfest to add as many as three more stages, Caxaj said, bringing the total to eight.

“We don’t need to rush into this. We want to do it right,” he said. “We need to increase our budget as well.”

About 250 vendors — 65 food exhibitors and 185 selling art, crafts, clothing and more — squeezed into London’s downtown park over the weekend.

Another challenge facing the event is how to power four days’ worth of world music with an ever-growing lineup. “The consumption of hydro is so high,” Caxaj explained.

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