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, July 26, 2017

Where to Park? (Part Two)

A few years ago, Gary and I went to an event that included a large parade. The parade was to go straight down the main street and then turn right onto the street that led to the park and the final destination. However, someone had forgotten to put “No Parking” signs at the corner of the street. In the morning several car had parked there. By the time the parade came it was too late to find the owners and asked them to move their vehicle. As a result the larger floats couldn’t make the turn and were told to continue straight. Needless to say, this caused mass confusion. The whole parade became disrupted; parade participant didn’t know where to go, parade watchers didn’t know where to stand and the police had difficulties controlling crowd and traffic! This was a situation that could have been avoided if the committee had paid attention to the “little things”.
Creating a simple but thorough checklist will go a long way towards having minimum problems come parade day. Here are a few ideas to consider adding to the list:
       Prepare a parking strategy with map that shows existing parking availability, no parking areas and potential off-site parking areas
       Determine if off-site parking required
       Determine if a shuttle service is needed and what the costs would be, plus if it could be paid for by a sponsor
       Determine how many “No Parking” signs are required and where they would be placed (make the signs large enough to be seen clearly)
       Determine how many “Directional Signs” are needed are where they would be placed (consider placing signs at all town entry points)
       Develop a strategy to work with local residents and businesses
       Develop a “parking patrol” strategy
       Work with town officials and local police to make sure “No Parking” areas are strictly enforced
       Plan for a number of handicapped parking spots
       Plan for convenient drop off areas
       Plan for parking attendants at off-site parking areas

       Make sure your local media advertises all road closures, parking areas and parade route. These should also be included in any festival materials produced.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Where to Park? (Part One)

I feel sorry for most festival organizers when it comes to event parking. It’s a no win situation, but it is a problem that needs to be addressed head-on. And, the problem doesn’t end on where to park festival visitors. It also involves dealing with local businesses and residents. These people must be considered, otherwise your festival or event will be plagued with complaints from angry citizens, and angry citizens usually translate into uncooperative politicians and bureaucrats. Along with parking challenges comes traffic control during the event. That’s why forming a parking and traffic control committee early in the planning process is very important. I know there are a lot of festival committees out there that feel that they have plenty of existing parking so why bother planning. I guess that’s fine if you are only planning a small local festival, but if you are looking for out-of-town visitors, a having planned parking and traffic control is a must! Even if it’s just to have directional signage! Careful thought early in the game will mean fewer problems during your event. It’s not just the BIG picture that needs to be considered, it’s the small details too. Having the event committee consider all aspects of parking and traffic control, including consultation with the community (officials and businesses), will help eliminate future problems. Having contingency plans is also important. Real-time challenges WILL come up, so being prepared is always wise!

(To be continued – Part Two)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How Do People Find You?

I am sure that Gary and I are not the only ones who visit out-of-town festivals and events. While we are normally able to find most places, there are some smaller towns that need the help of directions to find them. It is important, therefore, for festival organizers to include directions or better still, a map, to their town. These directions should also include directions to the festivals location. This, however, is not enough!

This brings me to my greatest complaint against festival organizers. Most festivals have few or no directional signs. They seem to expect that out-of-town visitors will just know where the local fair ground or community centre is. The problem is, out-of-town visitors don’t know where these locations are. I can tell you from experience that having to drive around looking a festival site is very frustrating and usually takes the fun out of visiting the festival. All that is needed are few well-placed directional signs scattered strategically around town. I don’t think organizers are lazy (just the opposite) or are trying to save money. I think they are so familiar with where everything is located in their town that they think very one else is too, even out-of-towners. Festival organizers must get out of this mind set and start imagining themselves as festival visitors, not festival organizers. By doing this their festival will become more visitor friendly, which will eventually lead to greater attendance. Greater, more diversified attendance will help the festival grow and prosper. If you think this is an isolated problem, I can assure you it is not. Of the 40 plus festivals we visited this past year, over 90 percent has poor to no directional signage. This is not a good statistic. Those who did put out directional signage, did a very good job. To the others, look for signage opportunities. Think about contacting local merchants and asking them to create and pay for directional event signs (with their names on them)… good for the festival, good the merchants and better still, good for the people who want to visit your community and event!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Festival Websites… Keep Them Simple But Factual…

When Gary and I choose the events we want to visit, it’s normally as a result of the event’s website. I believe a lot of potential event visitors do the same thing. It is an easy and fast way to see what an event is all about, and when it is going to take place. So, it amazes me when a festival either doesn’t have a website or has one that is so vague that it is useless as an information tool.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, being too cute or over exaggerating, can be just as bad. The old KISS principle – “Keep it simple, stupid” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle ) should be applied here. Having a simple but factual festival website, in my opinion, is best! The following is my list of “What festival websites should include”:
       Accurate description of your event
       Event dates
       Event times
       Event location
       Event costs (all of them)
       Parking information, including costs if any
       Directions to the event including a map for out of town visitors
       Disabled information
       Event program and guide, including activities, activity locations and activity times (A site map is always helpful)
       Contact list, who and how (I always like to see a way of e-mail contacting)
       Sponsors list
You or your web designer may have other ideas, and that’s okay, but these basics should always be included.
Other good things to include, but not as important as the above are:
       Event history
       Volunteer acknowledgement
       Special links (local restaurants, hotels, attractions and businesses)
Also, make your site printer friendly. I like to print out festival information and take it with me. I get more out of the festival that way.
Finally, it is important that your website is accessible to mobile phones. Search engines, especially Google are penalizing (not showing your website high on search page) websites who are not accessible. This doesn’t mean that you have to have an APP, but just that when your website is reduced to mobile size it is readable.

Your website is your voice! Make sure that your web designer understands this and adheres to your instructions!