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, March 4, 2021

Event Development – Direction (Part Four)

 The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. The last Blog started describing the “Commitment” section, now I want to move to the “Direction” section. This week’s Blog is the beginning of this section. As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!

Direction (Continued)

8.    Formalizing your committee structure

Many groups and chair believe in a very informal structure. They believe that volunteers are volunteers and can’t be “bossed” around. This is true to a point, but I feel most people want some structure. They want to know that their leaders have a plan and know how to achieve it. Running a committee by the “seat of your pants” just doesn’t cut if with most people. So some kind of formalized structure is a good thing. Many liken it to a “benevolent dictatorship”. That may be going a little too far, but you get the picture. So how do we accomplish this? As I mentioned previously, knowing where you are going to end up is a great start. Choosing the right committee members and assigning tasks that are suited to them also helps. The actual running of the committee needs organization. I can’t count the number of meetings that I have attended that were completely unorganized and unstructured. Frankly, for the most part, they were a total waste of time and accomplished little or nothing. Here is what I feel are the minimum requirements for a well run committee and its meetings.

·         Written Action Plan and Budget

·         Job Descriptions

·         Written agenda that is distributed to committee member a day or two prior to the meeting

·         Written committee reports that are distributed at least 2 or 3 days prior to the meeting

·         Complete and accurate minutes of each meeting that are sent out to committee members within 3 days after the meeting

·         Using “parliamentary procedure” when an important idea needs to be formally approved by the committee

These may seem extreme to some, but following these simple procedures will minimize wasted time and volunteer frustration and help make your event successful. (To be continued)

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Event Development – Direction (Part Three)

The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. The last Blog started describing the “Commitment” section, now I want to move to the “Direction” section. This week’s Blog is the beginning of this section. As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!

Direction (Continued)

5.    Map out each segment

Take a look at each segment and determine what needs to be done for each and what are the time lines necessary to complete the tasks in each segment. Developing a task/time matrix, at this point, really helps the committee to focus in on the jobs that need to be done quickly and when. Keeping it up to date and actually using are just as important. Lots of great tools become useless because they are not used properly or not used at all!

6.    Job Assignments

Now it’s time to determine what jobs need to be done. Breaking each job into specific tasks, will help create a much clearer picture of what needs to be done. Writing a clear and concise description of each task lets everyone know what is expected of them. Vague instructions will only lead to frustration and missed tasks. Clear instructions for each task equal a greater chance of success.

4.    Job Descriptions

Once the tasks have been clearly written, they need to be put back into a specific job area. For example, if the task is to obtain catering quotes then the job area would likely be facilities. Taking all the tasks and assigning them to a job area will ultimately give you each areas job description. The other advantage of developing job description this way is that it helps you consider who on your event committee could handle which task. The idea here is to assign each committee member a task or tasks to be completed within the designated time frame. By dividing up the tasks into manageable portions, your volunteers are under much less strain to complete the task. Loading up one person with too much work will lead to resentment and jobs not being completed. (To be continued) 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Event Development – Direction (Part Two)


The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. The last Blog started describing the “Commitment” section, now I want to move to the “Direction” section. This week’s Blog is the beginning of this section. As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!

Direction (Continued)

2.    Know exactly where you are going

By knowing exactly where you are going, it is much easier to get there! You are likely scratching your head and thinking “boy what a dumb thing to say!! You course it’s easier…” Think about it, how many committees or groups you have been a member of that just rush forward in developing an event without really thinking it through. Likely more then you would care to admit. It’s the classic reason why events failure. The event has poor or no leadership; no one knows who is doing what. Jobs are duplicated or not done at all and important items are forgotten completely. Knowing exactly where you are going that away the element of surprise and reduced the risks enormously. Take the time to really think through your event so that you know where you are going to be at the end of your planning journey.

3.    Break the BIG picture into manageable segments

For many of you just thinking about the BIG picture make you break into a cold sweat. Taking a complete picture and then trying to see it competed is too much to handle. By looking at the final event and then breaking it into smaller, manageable segment makes something seems impossible, now possible. The question is “how do I break it up and what should the segments be”. Obviously each event is different, but most of the basic elements are the same… Who, what, where, when, why and how. Doing this simple step allows you to start the planning process.

4.    Make a list of the segments

As I mention before, each event has its own special idiosyncrasies, but let’s take a look at the segments that are common to most events.

·     Finance

·     Facilities

·     Sponsorships

·     Donations

·     Set-up

·     Activities

·     Advertising and Publicity

·    Miscellaneous

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Event Development – Direction (Part One)

 Event Development – Direction (Part One)

The following is a continuation of my Event Development Series. The last Blog started describing the “Commitment” section, now I want to move to the “Direction” section. This week’s Blog is the beginning of this section. As suggested previously, any thoughts and idea are more then welcome!


Would you take an important trip without having a final destination planned? I doubt it. Holding a successful event is much the same. You need to know your ultimate goal. Like your trip, there are many methods and routes you can take, but the final destination is always the same. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve is absolutely essential to completing a successful event. Knowing the final destination tells you where you want to go lets you plan how to get there and finally, lets you reach your target quickly with minimum problems. Having frank and open discussions on the project’s ultimate goals, will allow all participants to take ownership and work together to make the project happen.

1.     The BIG Picture

Here is where it becomes fun… you get to dream. I don’t mean go to sleep and dream (although that might help some people), I mean let your mind flow freely and think what could be. Write down all of your ideas not matter how crazy some of them may seem. Motivational author, Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Grow Rich” had a great quote that I think really applies here. “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Take all the ideas you have written down and rank them in importance to the vision and success of your event. A picture should now be forming in your mind of how your event will look. Eventually, by thinking about and discussing your event it should become crystal clear. You should be able to see the event being set up, with everything in its proper place. You should be able to see the event completely set up and the see your attendees entering the facility and being amazed at what they see. You should be able to see and hear your guest enjoying themselves. You should be able to picture your fellow committee members smiling and congratulating event other on a job well. Sounds hokey? Believe that better you can visualize your event, the better the chance of awesome success! (To be continued)

Thursday, February 4, 2021

It Makes Me Wonder Why…

 Not often, but sometimes when I approach a crafter, artisan or artist at a festival to take a photo or to talk to them about their creations, I get turned down. This happens even after I explain to them what I am doing and that I am willing to promote them and their products for free! It makes me wonder why they would say No! The purpose of their being at a festival is to sell and promote their goods, isn’t it? If so, why would they refuse my help? I do know that some are afraid that I might be trying to steal their design or unique ideas, and that’s fair. However, I never take close up photos of products unless I receive permission or I am asked to by the creator. If they have a website, I even offer to link to their site (at no cost). So, what I am I doing wrong? Perhaps I am not explaining what I do properly. Perhaps they have been burnt by someone else who promised but didn’t deliver or lied about what they were doing. Perhaps they just don’t want to be promoted. I don’t know. It’s still a mystery to me! 

I am hoping someone, who would say “NO”, will read this article and tell me why. After all, my website, Ontario Visited (http://www.ontariovisited.ca/) is dedicated to promoting Ontario festivals and the vendors who support them!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Event Development (Part Eleven)

 Commitment (continued)

25.    Will there be enough volunteers available at event time?

That is why it’s important to determine the size of your event, the type of event and when it is going to be held. These will all be determining factors in your manpower (volunteers) plan. It will also be a determining factor on whether or not your group can or are willing to commit to the event you are contemplating. If the majority of your group isn’t willing to be there for the event or you don’t have enough people to man the event properly, then you may be finished before you start. Many times event day volunteers don’t come from the ranks of the organizers. Once you have determined your needs, it a good idea to put out the word… newspaper ad, schools, other groups, etc… that you will need help for your event.

26. What are the positive and negative features of your event?

Here’s the moment of truth. This question involves taking a critical look at the event you are planning… the positives and negatives. How critical can you be? You can’t just pass these over as though they didn’t matter. How can you expect your group to commit to something you have developed if you don’t take the process seriously? Seriously analyzing your event, warts and all, is the only way to move forward and continue to move forward to a successful conclusion. Here is your chance to shine.

27.  What are your contingency plans?

Risks are a part of any event, especially a new one. What are they for your event… heavy rains and/or winds… a snow storm… sicknesses… fire… etc. One of the questions your group has to ask you is, “What if…?” You have to be fully prepared to calm their fears and answer their questions… truthfully. Once you can you that, you are on your way… go ahead, ask for their COMMITMENT!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Event Development (Part Ten)

 23.    Can Insurance coverage be purchased and at a reasonable cost?

Don’t assume that insurance is readily available. With all the turmoil in the world today, insurers are becoming more and more selective on whom they will insure. This is especially true of insurance companies that usually insure normal types of risks. If you are turned down by your local broker, don’t give up. There are insurers who specialize in festivals and events. If your local broker can recommend one of these insurers to you, you can go onto the internet and investigate them for yourself. Finally, if you can’t find a suitable insurer or the cost is too prohibitive, you might want to approach your local municipal council and ask them if you can be included on their policy. They may or may not agree. If all else fails, try to find out why the coverage is not available or why it is so expensive. It may be just a matter of altering your plans to fit the insurance company’s mold. A word to the wise, whatever the outcome do not hold the event if insurance is not available. 

24.    How much volunteer time is needed?

You must realistically consider this question. Much of the success of your event will depend on having reliable volunteers available. Planning and executing a great event takes time and effort. Everyone should know what they are getting into BEFORE they commit. You don’t want someone to quit because the job was taking too much of their time. COMMITMENT means TRUST and TRUST means COMMITMENT and that’s the way to build a great, enthusiastic team. 

(To be continued)