A while ago, we visited an event that was scheduled to have its activities take place inside and outside. When we arrived it was raining quite heavily, plus it was cold! A bad combination for a spring festival! When we got there I checked with the festival information desk to obtain an event schedule. One of the staff explained the schedule and outlined the changes being made due to the poor weather (rain/cold). Everything seemed organized with an adequate contingency plan. Unfortunately the execution of the plans was poor! Staff were walking about, confused as to where and when activities were taking place. There was one event that we particularly wanted to see, so we asked one of the staff members the time of the next performance. She told us 1:30 PM. When we came back at 1:15 PM to see the show, there was no line up, so we asked a different attendant the time of the show. He told us 2:45 PM! This was disappointing, not only because we were given incorrect information, but the time was in direct conflict with the main attraction which was to start at 3:00 PM. We decided to miss the 2:45 PM performance. We bided our time by walking the festival grounds, in the rain. Finally, with plenty of time to spare, we made our way to the main attraction’s venue. We found a good viewing spot and claimed as our own. As the time got closer to 3:00 PM, set up activities started to take place. This activity seemed to draw people to the staging area! People started to arrive in numbers and were sitting and standing wherever they could. So much for arriving early and choosing a good viewing spot! Finally the set up staff realized that the performance area had people in it and that they were going to interfere with the performers. After much wrangling and time, they managed to relocate the encroaching crowd to new non-conflicting positions. 3:00 pm came and went! At approximately 3:20 PM the first performers were introduced. The whole production was spectacular, definitely worth waiting for! However, I believe that the confusion and delays could have been avoided if the contingency plans had been taken more seriously. Plans like these need to be practiced and understood by ALL staff members, not just the planners! This was a world class event, at a world class venue. I am sure that in the good weather everything ran smoothly, but with the bad weather everything seemed to fall apart. This event deserved to have the same professionalism, good weather or bad!
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, December 13, 2017
A number of years ago, we visited the Bowmanville Maple Festival & All That Jazz. The entire main street was closed off for the festival. That was no mean feat, as the main street is the former Highway #2 and is normally a very busy road! However, the road was closed and full of festival visitors. Parking close to the main street was difficult to find, but after a little driving we found a spot on one of the side streets. We walked from our parked car to the main street. The festival was in full swing! Vendors had set up their booth along the street. There was a long line up at the Lions Pancake Breakfast and jazz musicians were entertaining the crowds at several locations. What I have just described is typical of any great event. People walking the festival and having a good time.
This year’s Bowmanville Maple Festival was NOT typical! Bowmanville had just experienced a major downtown fire just a few days before the festival. Fire crews had spent hours preventing the fire from spreading and succeeded heroically! The citizens of Bowmanville must have been in shock, but the spirit of the residents and the festival organizers lived on! Despite the calamity the festival was held as scheduled. I know Gary and I enjoyed ourselves, as did the other festival visitors.
To me this shows what true “community spirit” is all about. People working together even in the face of great odds!
A tribute to the residents of Bowmanville!
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
If Festivals and Events Ontario were to spearhead this program, they could use it as a membership recruitment tool and it would give them the opportunity to educate and upgrade their existing festival and event members. The standards should be detailed, but not be too complicated. The program could start out by standardizing simple amenities, ones that every attendee would appreciate knowing about. Amenities such as washroom facilities and their placement, seniors and disabled facilities, children’s facilities, first aid, shuttle services and “green” programs could be the first ones standardized, others could follow later. With gas and food prices drastically increasing, people are becoming more and more discerning about where and how they spend their money. They want value for money spent. They don’t want to drive long distance to events that have no appeal. They are using the internet more to select the festivals and events they are going to attend. Our Ontario Visited websites attest to that, as does the Ontario Travels site. The traffic on our site attracts over ½ million visitors per year. Other festival and event websites attract 1000’s of event goers per weekend. It is important that festivals understand the changing dynamics and take advantage of them as new opportunities. Those that don’t will ultimately fail. Standard guideline, I believe, will help festivals achieve their potential.