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"!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Festival Amenities… Part 1

Gary and I determine what festivals we are going to visit, by going onto websites to see what is being offered. I think many people use the same method. If you look on most festival websites, it is very hard to tell what basic amenities they are offering, disabled parking, children’s activities, shuttle services, first aid, etc. and if they are offering any of these, what are they actually offering.  Right now, it is mainly a guessing game on the part of festival goers. 

Perhaps Festivals and Events Ontario or some other authoritative body could come up with some standard guidelines that festivals could use to describe basic amenities being offered. These guidelines could list each amenity and describe minimum standards for each. Special icons could be developed that could then be used by festivals if they met the minimum standards as outlined in the guidelines. These special icons would be the property of the developer and could only be used by festivals on written authority. By developing these standards, both festival organizers and event goers would benefit. Organizers would have amenity goals and standards to aim for, thereby making their event better. This would especially be true for new events. Festival visitors would benefit because they would know what amenities are being offered and what to expect from each amenity.

To Be Continued... Part 2

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Following the Crowd… (Part 2)


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 include 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.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Following the Crowd… Part 1

Story as told to me by The Festival Nomad (aka Gary McWilliams)

"I can remember as a young man working at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) and being amazed at the crowds that came to visit. Back then I never felt threatened by the crowds. In fact, I loved them! I used to make a game of walking through the crowds to see how quickly I could maneuver my way through them! I was never rude, but I did say a lot of “excuse me’s”. Back then I could move quite quickly and was very agile! Now, of course, it’s different. I’m a lot older and not quite as quick or agile as I use to be! I still love walking through crowds! For Judi, it’s a completely opposite story. She hates crowds! This “love/hate” is the challenge that all successful festivals and events 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."

To be Continued in Part 2...

Thursday, January 23, 2020

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. 
One festival that I know of, 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, their Craft Show and Sale has a waiting list and they have the “cream” of the crafters participating in their show! 
Another event, offers 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, January 15, 2020

Activity Planning…


Some time 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 must keep in mind who they are trying to attract and then plan the event/festival accordingly. One event that we visited, in my opinion, planned their activities and event to perfection. They had a wide range of interesting events that appealed 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.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Festival Dining... Part Two


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 then 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, January 2, 2020

Festival Dining… Part One

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. 

To Be Continued ~ Part Two