André Ménard (left) and Alain Simard on June 24, 1986. This photo was published on June 27, 1986 with a feature on the success of the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Len Sidaway / Montreal Gazette
“We never thought it would be this big.” That was the caption beneath this photograph of Montreal International Jazz Festival co-founders André Ménard, left, and Alain Simard, published on June 27, 1986.The photo by Len Sidaway and the article that accompanied it celebrated the resounding success of the seven-year-old event, which was being hailed by many as “the best jazz festival in the world.”About 320,000 people had attended the 1985 version of the festival, a figure that had its co-founders a little confounded, we wrote.Simard, who was in charge of marketing and financing, expressed wonder at the size of the event to our reporter. And Ménard, who booked the performers, warned that he did not think the festival could continue to expand at a rate similar to its first seven years: attendance in the first festival in 1980 had been 12,000.“I don’t think there’s any way we can keep growing geometrically — I believe we’re reaching some sort of saturation point,” Ménard said.“Of course, I said that last year, and this year it’s definitely bigger.”It continued to grow. It is now the largest jazz festival in the world. And as it launches its 40th edition on Thursday, organizers are expecting more than 2 million people to attend.As for its co-founders, Ménard and Simard have announced that the 2019 event will be their last as active participants on the organizing team. They’ll be enjoying the festival from the crowd from now on.Related