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by Gary McWilliams (aka Festival Nomad)
For some months we have been working on a “new and improved” ONTARIO EVENT DIRECTORY. This month, we are pleased to introduce it to our website visitors. Event organizers will now be able to add their event[s] at no cost. This complimentary service will help draw our 500,000 plus festival and event visitors to “listed” events. Event organizers will be able to enhance their listing[s] for a nominal fee. These “Word’ ads will help “event visitors” find that “special adventure” for their family’s outing! The new “Directory” will also be offering a “limited” number of larger (300 pixels wide X 200 pixels high) “Display” ads. A great “feature” of new Ontario Event Directory is that organizers will be able to add their event[s] themselves. Judi and I are very excited to bring this new Ontario Event Directory to both our festival and event web visitors and to our marketing “partners”!
We are also introducing our “new and improved” EVENT ARTICLE format. Each new event that we visit and write about will include “exclusive” custom video. There are currently 6 videos now available on our Ontario Visited websites. The articles can be found on the “” page of any of our “Visited” websites. Simply “scroll down” until you come to “ONTARIO VIDEO ADVENTURES” and the “click” on one of the video EVENT ARTICLE photos. Over the next year we plan on updating many of our past EVENT ARTICLES with “video presentations”. Judi and I believe that this will be an exciting addition to our Ontario Visited websites and their “Visited Event Articles”.
Other improvements are being planned and I will report on “What’s Ahead” as soon as they become available!
Festival Nomad’s Report…
March has been an interesting month. The weather in our area has been unpredictable, hot sometimes, cold most of the time and lots of snow! As for festivals and events, the month has been dominated with Maple Syrup Festivals. We were able to visit the Sweetwater Harvest Festival at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre. There was plenty of sunshine, but the air was very cold! When we arrived at the Marsh, I had to put on my “long johns”! However once we were in the forest, with no wind, I was almost too hot. Go figure! The day turned out to be glorious, filled with sunshine and rich, “yummy” maple syrup. The pancakes weren’t “bad” either! Needless to say, Judi and I had a great time. Other events in March included the Magic of Children in the Art Exhibition in Collingwood (produced by Lory MacDonald and team). The Exhibition runs until April 28, 2016 at the Collingwood Library. If you are in the area, try to drop into the library and take in the Art. You’ll be glad you did! Our other outing was to Kettleby to the York Region Partners in Tourism Summit.
April is the month of “rebirth”! I know that I have said it before, but “I love the Spring”! It’s not just that the weather is getting warmer, it’s much more then that! Leaves start appearing on the trees. Flowers start blooming. Faces become warmer and friendlier and festival and event committees become more committed to the tasks ahead! It’s a time too, that Judi and I start to seriously look to planning our spring and summer outings. Take the end of April for example. On Saturday, April 30th Elmvale will be holding their annual Maple Syrup Festival. It’s their 50th anniversary. It seems appropriate for us because 10 years ago the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival was the first event or community that we visited as Ontario Festivals Visited! Since then we have visited over 500 festivals, events, communities, fairs, attractions and heritage sites and museums. Along the way we have met hundreds of people (organizers, volunteer and event visitors) and have loved every minute of it! So, who knows what the next 10 years will bring? I know that we won’t run out of places and events to visit! This “Spring” is the “rebirth” of our Ontario adventures and discoveries! We have only just begun!
" This is a preview of our Almonte Visited video."
Oh Canada Eh! Game Answers…
In June 2015, we started to play the Oh Canada Eh! Game. In March 2016, four Questions about Canada have been asked. The following are the Questions with the Answers.
- March 6th, 2016~ (Ice Skating Question)
QUESTION: “Elvis Stojko was one of Canada’s best figure skaters. Where was he born?”
- March 13th, 2016~ (Snowboarding Question)
QUESTION: “What year did modern Snowboarding begin?”
- March 20th, 2016~ (Winter Shopping Question)
QUESTION: “What year was the first Shopping Centre opened?”
- March 27th, 2016~ (Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre Question)
QUESTION: “What year did the Canadian Wildlife Service establish the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre?”
I hope that you enjoy playing the Oh Canada Eh! Game. I’m sure that you knew all the answers. Remember, all of them can be found on the Internet. I’ll let you know the correct answers to all the April 2016 questions in our May 2016 INSIDER Newsletter.
NOTE ~ All future Oh Canada Eh! Game videos will give you a “choice” of “four” possible answers, one of which is correct! Good luck and have fun! At many of the events and communities we visited this past year, we took the time create an “Oh Canada Eh! Game” video. If you haven’t played yet, we hope that you will now and enjoy the trivia questions. All answers can be found on the internet. Events and communities highlighted in “RED” have an “Oh Canada Eh! Game" video. To view the videos, please visit our Oh Canada Eh! Game website (http://www.ohcanadaehgame.ca/).
"Judi investigates the maple syrup buckets at the Sweetwater Harvest Festival ~ Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, Midland."
Festival Nomad Blog
Several years ago I started writing a Blog under the pseudonym of “The Adventures of the Festival Nomad”. The Blog ran from November 2007 to March 2012. During that time I wrote over 230 articles. My first “Blog” was about the “Birth of the Festival Nomad”. Here’s the article as it appeared on November 29, 2007.
The Birth of the Festival Nomad
No, don’t worry. I am NOT going back to when I was in my Mummy’s tummy, although that might make an interesting story! Nor am I going to recount my youth, another great story! Instead, I’ll just go back to the beginning of this year. I had just decided to start up a new event consulting service and I was trying to think how I could get the ball rolling. Yes, I had been around festivals and events for over 20 years. Heck, I had even started a few successful festivals myself and had certainly chaired plenty of event committees, but was that enough? Did I really know festivals as a “festival attendee”? I thought I did, but how could I prove it? When I was a “civilian”, the type of festivals Judi and I attended were art related. After all, we were in the art business. What can I say! In hind sight, I can honestly say we didn’t know as much about festivals as we thought we did. There are a lot of different types of festivals and events out there. I started to explore the Internet. I goggled festivals and events and found millions of hits world-wide. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Just in North America it would take several life times to visit all the festivals and events shown. What to do, what to do? I decided to narrow down my focus to just Ontario festivals and events. I re-goggled and there were still thousands of sites listed. I was a member of Festivals and Events Ontario, so I started to go through their festival Guide. I started earmarking festivals that I thought would be interesting to attend. It was now time to make our first choice of event to attend.
"Our first VISITED event ~ Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival ~ April 2007."
The event was the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival. It was having its 40th anniversary, so we thought it would be a good place to start. We live in Cobourg, and Elmvale is northeast of Barrie, not exactly a local drive! But, we were committed. So off we drove on a sunny spring Saturday morning, weaving our way through Toronto traffic and then up the busy Highway 400. We found Elmvale easily. The website directions and accompanying map were great. We even found a parking spot close to the main festival entrance. Once we were on the festival grounds we started to get into the spirit of the festival. We purchased tickets to the maple syrup tour, climbed onto the school bus and were whisked off to the country. The tour was fascinating; we even got a ride on a hay wagon. What could be better! Then we were back at the festival. We started walking through the crowds of festival goers, exploring the town’s retail stores and the festival’s vendors. It was exciting to be part of the crowd who were enjoying the hard work of the festival organizers! We found ourselves becoming immersed in the spirit of the festival, especially after devouring a pancake breakfast with real maple syrup! We were hooked! It was the festival life for us! As we drove home, we talked about what we had seen and experienced. I said to Judi, “I want to share our experiences with others. I am going to write a Blog!” She said, “… a WHAT?” I explained to her what I had in mind and what a Blog was. Once she completely understood, she was in full agreement. When we got home I started pouring over all the Festival and Event information I could find. With Judi’s help, we created an itinerary for the next few months. We started to make lists of what we needed to take with us on our visits, how we would get to these events and what we would do when we got there. I went onto each festival’s website and printed off the sections I thought would be helpful. Finally I got down to writing my first festival blog. It, of course, was about the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival. I asked my friends and family to read the article. They all gave me great feedback! They told us it was a worthwhile idea and to keep going. That was all the encouragement we needed. We were going to travel around Ontario looking for great festivals and events to visit and experience. From that moment on, The Festival Nomad or should I say “Festival Nomads” were born!