Why an Interview,,,

Over the years we have been able to meet and talk with some very interesting people. They have shared with us their knowledge and have provided us with a great deal of insight as to how and why festivals and events work and why they are so important to our communities and to the Province of Ontario. With this in mind, we decided that we wanted you to meet and hear from some of the wonderful people who work so hard to provide us all with such wonderful Ontario Festivals and Events! We are pleased and proud to present "THE INSIDE SCOOP"!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Helping Hand…

Over the years Gary and I have been involved both as organizers and participants of many festivals and events and, of course, we have visited many more. As vendors we always appreciated when we were treated well and were disappointed when we weren’t. Festivals that treat their vendors and participants well will always be the event of choice for the better vendors. If your festival or event’s revenue is based upon the success of your vendors, treating them well just makes sense! It should play a major part in your event’s vendor marketing program. The Cobourg Rotary Club in their section of the Cobourg Waterfront Festival has taken this treatment to heart and offer their vendors a variety of amenities. Some of them include special vendor parking, booth sitting services and s vendor relaxation area with refreshments. Tenting and electricity are also included as part of their booth fee. By providing these, the club’s Craft Show and Sale always has a long waiting list and they have the “cream” of the crafters participating in their show! The Makers Hand in Picton, offer their vendors a lunch service. While we were visiting this show we saw volunteers go to each vendor and ask for their lunch order. We found out that the volunteer then went back to the in-show cafĂ©, put up the order and then brought it back to the exhibitor. On a short show where selling time is precious, this is a great benefit! I can tell you from experience that these services are really appreciated and good vendors seek out festivals and events that go the extra mile when it come to the treatment of their  vendors. By doing this it’s a win-win situation for everyone, great vendors, equal great events and happy visitors!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Activity Planning…

A while ago, Gary and I visited a festival and were disappointed when we found out the amount of down time we were going to experience if stayed for the whole event. With this particular festival, they had plenty of activities planned for the morning and musical entertainment for the evening but not very much in-between. The type of planning may be acceptable for local residents, but for out-of-town visitors it is a deterrent. Having an interesting array of activities and events, strategically scheduled for the entire day/weekend is critical to a successful event.

When planning an event, organizers should keep in mind who they are trying to attract, and then plan the event/festival accordingly. One event (Mississauga Waterfront Festival) that we visited one year, in my opinion, planned their activities and event to perfection. They had a wide range of interesting events that appeal to their target market. The activities and events were planned in such a way that none interfered with the other. This included timing and just as important, sound interference. Also, the events were planned in such a way that visitors could make their way without having to run to make it in time. This type of scheduling avoids the tension that so often results in angry parents dragging their children from event to event. Judging the reaction of fellow visitors, I could see that they also appreciated the efforts of the organizing committee. Successful festivals always know who their target market is and how to cater to them.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Festival Dining…

To me food and how it’s presented is an important part of how people perceive an event or festival. Part of the festival experience is the food and it’s likely the biggest festival expense for a family. If the food being offered is of poor quality, visitors will think the same of the event. I doubt this is the message that most festival organizers want to send to their attendees! I don’t mean that the food has to be at the gourmet level, but I believe that it must be prepared well and have strong appeal for the whole family. Fortunately local governments and health boards are taking a closer look at outdoor eating facilities and making vendors prepare their food in a more hygienic fashion. This answers the preparation concern, but not the appeal.
Festival organizers should screen potential food vendors very carefully to insure the only reputable operators are allowed to participate. Careful attention should be made to the types of foods being offered. A wide variety is preferable, not only for the people attending but for the vendors themselves.
In addition to hygiene and variety, people are demanding healthier and more nutritional foods. Festivals should be aware of this trend and make sure they are making this type of food available. One food related area, that most festivals miss, is having a decent eating area close to the food vendors. There is nothing more annoying than having to juggle food, drinks, purses and packages or to have to stand up to eat. It is such a simple thing to provide food area seating. I can’t understand why festivals don’t offer this amenity. One of the best examples of how to combine all of these elements is the Winona Peach Festival. At the Winona Peach Festival they have one large food court area. All the food vendors are located in this one area. The food vendors, all of whom are manned and operated by local community and service groups, offer a large variety of wholesome foods. Visitors, after purchasing their food, can take it to a covered eating area! The Winona Peach Festival is a great event to learn from and copy. Good food, at a reasonable price, will always win the hearts of festival visitors!
Finally, I have one further suggestion. When setting up an eating area, festival organizers should include a wash-up facility. I am sure that this is one element that would be very much appreciated by all visitors.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Top 10 Event Suggestions…

The Nomad and I were having coffee and a bagel at one of our local Tim Hortons. Believe it or not we like to go there to write. I find it less distracting then home! While I was there, an acquaintance stopped to say hello. He is the past chair of the Rotary portion of the Cobourg Waterfront Festival. Naturally our conversation turned to the Waterfront Festival and festivals in general. I told him about Ontario Visited and that Gary and I completed a personal event evaluation after visiting each event. He asked me if I had any suggestions on how to improve the Waterfront Festival of just festivals in general. I told him we would give him our top 10 suggestions! I want to share these suggestions with you in this blog. They are presented in no particular order of importance, but my biggest pet peeve is poor or no external or internal signage. That being said, the others suggestions will vary according to the type and size of the events being organized.

Here is my Top Improvement 10 list:

  1. Good and well placed signage
  2. Well designed and informative websites
  3. Shuttle services when needed
  4. Package delivery service
  5. Services for seniors and the disabled
  6. Clean and well placed washroom facilities
  7. Shaded seating areas
  8. Informative festival guides
  9. Informed well trained volunteers
  10. Good food at fair prices

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“CONTACT US” (Part Two)

Continuing on this topic of “CONTACT US”, why don’t all website have an e-mail address? After they are using the internet, so someone must use e-mail. In this day and age, who wants write a letter and wait weeks for a reply? Or, who wants to make a telephone call, get an answering machine and then wait for a call back? I know I don’t! E-mail is such an effective and efficient way of communicating. The worst group for this lack of a contact e-mail is the fall fairs. As a group, they don’t seem to want to communicate through e-mail! At first I thought it might be because it was run by rural people who might have slow internet connections, but technology is zooming ahead in leaps and bounds, so I don’t think this is a factor. Beside more and more rural people are becoming very savvy when it comes to technology and communications. Gone are the days of party lines and outhouses, today its satellites and high definition TV.  So what is the answer then? I’m not sure. I am just telling you my observations as a person constantly looking at festival, event and attraction websites. If someone does have the answer, please let me know! In the meantime, if you are a festival or event organizer or you develop websites for them, make sure you include and easy to find “CONTACT US” page and that it includes a contact e-mail address!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

“CONTACT US” (Part One)

Have you ever been on a website and found that you had a question or comment? I know I have. So, it always bugs me when the “CONTACT US” page is either non-existent or impossible to find! How can you have a website and I am talking about festivals, event and attractions, and not have a readily accessible “CONTACT” page. I will give you an example. I wanted to visit a Santa Claus parade. I went onto their website (very cute and hard to manipulate, but that is another blog) to find out more information about the parade. After reading the website I had a number of questions I wanted to ask. I started to look through the site to find their “CONTACT” page. NOTHING! I know where to look to find obscure “CONTACT” pages, but I could find nothing in this case. I even tried to send an e-mail to info@theirsite.ca but no luck. The message was sent back as undeliverable. So much for ingenuity! The organizing committee obviously did not want to communicate with its patrons! WHY you might ask! You would think that they would want feedback, suggestions. Wouldn’t they want to help people who had questions? You would think so, but not this event! The sad part is that they are not alone.

(Continued on Part Two)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Community Involvement… (Part Two)

Cobourg Waterfront Festival
This is really a number of festivals and events within a larger community festival. Four community groups have banned together to host one of Canada’s most successful Canada Day weekend festivals. The four groups involved are the Cobourg Lions Club, the Cobourg Rotary Club, the Northumberland Central Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Cobourg’s Canada Day committee. The effect of this coalition is that it attracts 70,000 odd visitors to Cobourg each July 1st and raises 100’s of thousands of dollars that are invested back into the community.

Kleinburg Binder Twine Festival
Each fall the entire downtown business section closes its streets for 1 day to celebrate the fall harvest. The unique feature of this festival is that out-of-town vendors and local merchants co-exist for this one day! To walk down the main street and see the line of white tents flanked by colorfully presented retail stores shows the true meaning of community involvement and cooperation!

Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest
The K-W Oktoberfest is the ultimate example of a community coming together to celebrate its people and their heritage! I don’t think that there is any one or business that doesn’t have at least some involvement with the Oktoberfest festivities. During the event, I think residents of the whole community, Kitchener, Waterloo and all the surrounding hamlets and villages, put on their Alpine Hats and Lederhosen and have a great time with all the attractions!

“We are all richer (not monetarily) when community residents join together to celebrate their community and its heritage.”