Gary told me, that as a young man working at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) that he was amazed at the crowds that came to visit. Back then he never felt threatened by the crowds. In fact, he loved them! He used to make a game of walking through the crowds to see how quickly he could maneuver his way through them! Gary was never rude, but he did say a lot of “excuse me’s”. Back then he could move quite quickly and was very agile! Now, of course, it’s different. He’s a lot older and not quite as quick or agile as he used to be! He still love walking through crowds! For me, it’s a completely opposite story. I hates crowds!
This “love/hate” is the challenge that all successful festival and event organizers have to face, because success brings bigger crowds. So how does a festival prepare for this type of success?
First of all, traffic control, vehicle and people, has to become an intricate part of the planning process. If your traffic control is poor or non-existent, your success will be short lived! Festival and event visitors will only stand for so much inconvenience. I have talked before about parking and shuttle services, so I won’t talk about them in this blog. Rather, I want to talk about pedestrian traffic flow. This type of traffic is much harder to manage than vehicle traffic because there are no “rules of the road”! It is basically every man (person) for themselves. If organizers take this fact into consideration, they should, at least, be able to help the traffic flow. This is especially important if you are encouraging seniors and the disabled to attend you event! One suggestion that I have in this area is to use “people movers” (golf carts, mini vans, and handicapped bus) for people who are unable or unwilling to move through heavy crowds. This takes some of the pressure off both organizers and seniors/disabled.
Other suggestions for traffic control includes strategic placement of major attractions, clustering like attractions together (food court, craft show, midway). This helps divide crowds into a variety of different interests. One of the best festivals we visited for traffic control was the Mississauga Waterfront Festival. Their events were well spaced and due to their location, Memorial Park in Port Credit, they were able to take advantage of the park’s great walkway system. Whatever the solutions, festival and event organizers should make traffic control a high priority.