As the clean-up after the fifth Irish Redhead Convention continued in Crosshaven, Co Cork, yesterday, festival bosses said it is now vital the right people get behind the event.
“The event is well and truly on the international map now,” convention founder Joleen Cronin said.
“I was at the Italian redhead event earlier in the year and people knew exactly who we were and where our festival is.
“It could become an enormous event if the right people get behind us. We need either commercial sponsorship or grant aid.
“The event could be as important to Irish tourism as the Rose of Tralee.”
Organisers of the voluntary-run event were left disappointed earlier this year when Fáilte Ireland turned down their application for funding under its Festivals and Events funding stream.
The tourism body said it was focusing its limited resources on events with an “immediate tourism impact” and was prioritising funding support for events which are capable of attracting a “greater number of overnight visitors staying in paid accommodation.”
The festival went on tosecure a small amount of grant aid from the Community Diaspora Fund, through Cork County Council and insurance company IPB, news of which only came through last month.
But the popularity of the event has grown so much over the last five years, that more financial support is needed to build on its success.
Ms Cronin said they plan to make a detailed funding submission to Fáilte Ireland again this year in a bid to take the 2015 event to the next level.
Over 3,000 people attended the event over the weekend. It attracted worldwide media interest, with a BBC film crew, and ginger-haired California-based film-makers, Chase Hagerman and Joey Ceppaglia — who are on a round-the-world ginger-themed trip — also in town to enjoy the festivities (#gingersabroad).
The festival is a major fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society and has raised over €15,000 for cancer research and support.