Lobster Carnival and deCoste Centre generate much economy

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As a former member of the Pictou Lobster Carnival Committee I was always curious as to what the economic spinoffs were of such an event.

Prior to moving to Pictou in 2005 the Carnival was an annual pilgrimage home from wherever we lived, like so many other former residents. This also aroused my curiosity about the deCoste Centre and its contribution to the local economy.

As a summer performer with Na Gaisgich Pipes & Drums during the “Summer Sounds” series I always made a point of talking to the audience that dropped by to hear us and found a great many were from “away” as we say. I was recently given an opportunity to sit down with Wayne MacGillivary, past Chairman of the deCoste Board of Directors since 1982.

The deCoste Centre had its official opening in November 1982 with a performance by Rita MacNeil. Since then the deCoste has presented more than 3,000 concerts featuring singers, musicians, actors and dancers from around the world. With its flexible seating arrangement, the deCoste is the venue in Northeastern Nova Scotia for conventions, awards, banquets, weddings, food fairs, business seminars, craft shows and trade shows. Recent clients have included the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Pictou County Chamber of Commerce and the Pictou Innkeepers association.

The deCoste also hosts numerous live television and radio broadcasts – from local charity telethons to CBC radio tapings. The deCoste also had a study conducted in 2011 to determine its economic impact on Pictou and the surrounding area and this was the focus of my discussion with Wayne. The study was conducted by survey of approximately 15 per cent of the visitors, 80 per cent being tourists.

During the data collection period, there were 1,680 visitors to the deCoste Centre. When the responses of the survey were weighted to represent all visitors, total trip spending was estimated to be close to $3 million. The breakdown of this total represented 25 per cent going to lodging, 15 per cent restaurants, 15 per cent recreation and entertainment and seven per cent to local shopping. The remainder was mainly transportation and other spending. So for every dollar spent at the deCoste, $39.98 was spent on Nova Scotia goods and services.

Further discussion with MacGillivary indicated that the study determined that travel is not just about where you’ve been anymore; it’s about what you did when you were there. In addition to the deCoste there is also the Hector Heritage Quay, which compels the visitor to want to return and even recommend the experience to others.

The local population was not included in the survey, however, local people play a vital role in the economic success of the deCoste, says MacGillivary, including paid staff, local musicians and Pictou County members who will come to the area for a meal, concert and maybe a trip to the Fisheries Museum or the MacCulloch Museum and Genealogy Centre.

Wayne also gives a great deal of credit for the economic success to the many volunteers, sponsors and advertisers which in addition to its $200K in ticket sales and $33K in rentals help to sustain the facility and maintain its economic viability.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Wayne for his 32 years of dedicated service as chairman of the board and his fundraising skills that made the deCoste a Pictou County icon!


Faus Johnson resides of the Town of Pictou and has, and continues to participate in a number of not-for-profit organizations.

Organizations: Rotary Club, Lions Club, Pictou County Chamber of Commerce Pictou Innkeepers association CBC Hector Heritage Quay Fisheries Museum MacCulloch Museum

Geographic location: Pictou County, Nova Scotia

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