Coquitlam to chip in as much as $50,000 to fund dumpling fest

The 2022 dumpling fest attracted an estimated 25,000 revelers. photo Jeremy Shepherd

While the fare was a bit rich for some, on Monday evening Coquitlam council ultimately pledged to pay as much as $30,000 to help fund this year’s B.C. Dumpling Festival.

The city previously supplied a $20,000 grant for the Town Centre Park celebration of fine dough and flavourful filling.

Some councillors expressed concern about other events getting short shrift as well the likelihood of the 2023 dumpling fest replicating last year’s attendance, which was estimated at 25,000. However, a majority of council emphasized the importance of the event.


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More than just fostering tolerance, the event is a “celebration of our differences,” said Mayor Richard Stewart.

Most city events don’t arise from the aftermath of outrage, Stewart noted.

In April 2021, Gina Chong was taking a stroll at Town Centre Park when a woman told her COVID-19: “came from your country.”

A video of the exchange went viral and Chong eventually dedicated herself to celebrating Asian arts and culture and set about organizing the dumpling festival. Following the 2022 event, Chong told the Dispatch she was “happy to reclaim that park.”

However, bringing the fest back for a second year has been rife with challenges, according to Chong.

After many of last year’s festival-goers complained of long lines and parking problems, Chong and other organizers planned to add more vendors, increase security and add a shuttle bus service. Other changes included more cultural performers, a better children and arts zone, and a waste management company to ensure the park is kept clean.

An initial estimated budget of $95,000 for the event ballooned due to supply chain challenges, rising fuel costs and overall inflation. The current budget is $141,850. With revenue expected to add up to $110,500, the event was projected to land in a $31,350 hole.

A major challenge is finding sponsorship, Chong told council.

“Probably half of the sponsors we got last year can’t sponsor us this year,” she said.

As a first-year festival, the event also got by on donated services including videography and free advertising from the Tri-City News, Chong said.

“I’m not going to lie, I begged everybody.”

This year, however, those services come with a cost, she explained.

With concerns about a looming recession, Coun. Trish Mandewo questioned approving an extra $30,000 for one event.

“I just worry that every single organization is running through the same things,” Mandewo said.

Mandewo advised looking for ways to trim the budget, “rather than going for the Rolls-Royce.”

Coun. Teri Towner concurred, moving to reduce the extra funding from $30,000 to $15,000.

It’s important the city ensures the event is successful, said Coun. Craig Hodge, who noted that annual events are particularly fragile in their early years.

“I’m afraid if we don’t support it, we might next year be saying, ‘Well, it’s not a signature event.’”

Coun. Robert Mazzarolo agreed, moving for city staff to work with organizers and for the city to contribute a maximum of $30,000 to the event.

“I think this event does stand for something more than just the fact that it’s dumplings, regardless of how good they are,” he said.

Stewart agreed.

“Given one more year, I suspect a whole bunch of organizations and a whole bunch of sponsors can be lined up,” he said.

Mazzarolo’s motion passed 7-2 with Couns. Dennis Marsden and Towner opposed.

“I just want to remind the organizers that haggis is a dumpling,” Stewart added after the vote. “It might make it way too successful.”

This year’s festival is set for Aug. 12.


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