The Importance of Festivals and Events…
I wonder how many of us realize how important festivals and events are to communities. Yes, they bring out-of-town visitors into the community. They provide entertainment for both visitors and residents. And, of course, they bring extra dollars to community businesses. However, I truly believe that these are just the “tip” of the benefits. I think that there are even better benefits. How about donations from service clubs that support the hospital, sport fields and beautification! Or, from church groups, who give money to local food and clothing charities. The list of good things that come festivals and events goes on for ever! It’s fortunate that most community politicians and bureaucrats recognize the value of these events and support them fully. Federal and provincial government also recognize their importance and support them through various funding projects. However, in the long run, it’s the local volunteers who make the difference. Through their hard work and ideas, they help raise money to make their community a better place to live. Fortunately for Judi and me, we have been able to witness the positive effects of festivals and events. For example, Cobourg service clubs have donated hundreds of thousand dollars (perhaps millions) to such projects as town parks, the sports complex, the Northumberland Hills Hospital, to name a few. Other community organizations support Big Brothers and Sisters, food banks, community centre, youth groups, parks and so much more! There’s a group in Sarnia that promotes Organ Donor Awareness and raises funds through its Jazz and Blues in the Village event. In Essex, Community Living Essex County, hold the Ruthven Apple Festival. This long running event brings in hundreds of dollars to help community residents who need support. Finally, also in Sarnia, there is Pathways Health Centre for Children. They raise money for their Children’s Health Care centre. They do this by holding their annual ARTZscape by the Bay. Frankly, I could go on and on about the good that comes from community festivals and events and I could tell you about all the communities that benefit from them. However, I’d rather you find out about them yourselves! The next event you visit, have fun, enjoy yourself, but also look into the organizing group hosting the event and see what they trying to accomplish! It will give you a new meaning to your visit and perhaps give you a “sense of pride” that you help the community with your visit!
"Giant Wind Turbines dotted the horizon as I neared Dundalk!"
Festival Nomad’s Report…
May has been a great month for traveling! At the beginning of the month, with the sun shining “high in the sky”, I took a trip around the area. Judi was away at her sister’s in Newmarket, so this was to be a “solo exploratory” tour. My first destination was to be Markdale, home of Chapman Ice-cream. I headed south-west through beautiful country roads. I had programed my GPS (a Christmas present from my daughter and her family) for Markdale, so I know that I wouldn’t get lost! However, I did confuse my GPS navigator, “Lucy”, by taking roads that “she” had not approved! She scolded me with phrases such as “Turn back!” or “Turn left!” Eventually it became a “game” as “who could outwit who”! Ultimately it was a “tie” and we both ended up in Markdale. I toured the little town and found the amazing Chapman Facility. It’s hard to believe that just few years before much of the plant had burned down. From Markdale, I reprogramed “Lucy” to take me to Shelburne. On the way there, we passes through Flesherton and Dundalk. While approaching Dundalk, I was surrounded be “tall mythical monsters” (better known as “Wind Turbines”). The area is known for its great amount of wind (not to be confused with Ottawa) and thus its use of “wind power”. After a quick tour through downtown Dundalk, I was off to Shelburne. I was vaguely familiar with Shelburne in that I had once traveled there to visit the Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship. Unfortunately it rained while we were there and we missed all but the parade. As an aside, the Fiddle Championship has been organized and run by the Rotary Club of Shelburne for many years and proceeds from the event support the Club’s charitable efforts. Down the road (east) was the start of my “greatest adventure”! I had wanted to take the back roads from Shelburne to Creemore. I set “Lucy” to start on the road just east of Shelburne and off of Hwy. 89. We were off and what a ride! “Lucy” took me through winding roads, around sharpe corners, twist up and down switchbacks, through lushly treed forests and unplowed farmers’ fields. The trip took over 2 hours, but the scenery and rolling landscape provided a “lifetime” of entertainment. Needless to say, I will take this trip (with Judi) again! The trip culminated, off of a dirty road, into the rustic Village of Creemore. After a great lunch in the village, I headed back for an anti-climactic trip to Thornbury.
"The Mariposa Market, Orillia, a great place to visit and explore!"
My next trip, this time with “Scoop” Judi, was to Orillia. Our destination was lunch at the Mariposa Market! If you have never visited Orillia and had lunch at the Market, you’ve missed a great treat! While we were in Orillia, we were able to visit the Mariposa Folk Festival office. Here we were given the latest festival news. It’s an event (July 3-5) that shouldn’t be missed! After that, we headed to the offices of the Canadian Authors Association. Anita Purcell, the Executive Director, was there, and we met with for a few minutes. While there we talked about their upcoming (June 11–14) CanWrite! Writers Conference and Retreat. Then it was off to Midland. We had an appointment to meet with Nicole Major, Midland’s Cultural, Tourism and Special Events Manager. Nicole told us about the many interesting tourist related changes taking place in the area. A lot to look forward to! We had hoped to tour the Town’s “Mural Collection” but it was raining, so we postponed the tour to another day.
At the end of “Orillia Tour”, we attended the annual Great Northern Exhibition’s Trivia Night (Stayner). Our friend, Lory MacDonald, organizer of the Artfest Ontario series of events, helped gather up a team of 8 trivia buffs. We had a great time and managed not to embarrass ourselves too badly!
"Great fun at the Great Northern Exhibition's Trivia Night!"
In mid-May, we met with Jodi Easson, marketing guru for the Caledonia Fair. “Scoop” Judi had arranged to interview Jodi for THE INSIDE SCOOP Blog. The interview with Jodi was extremely informative and interesting! You will be able to read and view the “Interview Series” at THE INSIDE SCOOP, soon.
"Interview with Jodi Easson, Caledonia Fair at the Village at Blue Mountain."
During the Victoria Weekend we traveled to Prince Edward County. As we mentioned in last month’s newsletter, May was International Museum month and Sunday, May 17th was Museum Day in Ontario. As a result, all of the 5 Prince Edward County Museums were open, free, to the public. Judi and I started out early Sunday morning, from Trenton, and visited our first museum. The Ameliasburgh Heritage Museum opened at 9:30 am. The museum’s curator, Janice Hubbs, met us at the door (not planned). In addition to this being Museum Day, it was also the “Welcome Weekend”. This was the weekend that re-enactors from the area and beyond set up camp at the museum. Judi and I toured the “museum village” and had a great time talking with many of the re-enactors. From Ameliasburg we headed for Wellington and the Wellington Heritage Museum. The Wellington Museum is small, but has a great history including its “Quaker heritage” and its “canning” displays. In Wellington, we had pre-arranged to meet our friends Barb and Lawrence Stephenson, who wanted to join the rest of our museum tour. After a great lunch in Wellington, we continue on the Loyalist Parkway to Picton and the Macaulay Heritage Park. This museum featured “period interpreters” who described the Macaulay House, its furniture and the people who had lived there. During our visit, Judi was able to meet with Jennifer Lyons, Head Curator of the Prince Edward County Museums. This is a sprawling house with many interesting rooms and features. With two museums left to visit and very little time to visit them, we reluctantly left Macaulay House and made our way to Rose House Museum. The house had been inhabited by 7 generations of the Rose family and represented Prince Edward County’s Loyalist heritage. After a “too short” visited, we headed for our final museum destination, the Mariners Park Museum. As their website states, the “Mariners Park Museum explores the many ways the inhabitants of Prince Edward County have earned their living from the surrounding waters from fishing and ship building through ice harvesting and rum running.” It had been a long and tiring day, but we had one final stop to make, the Black River Cheese retail store located in Milford. We joined the large line-up of cheeses lovers to purchase our “Maple Cheddar” cheese. A great time was had in Prince Edward County… “Great museums, great food and great friends”!
"Ontario Festivals Visited You Tube video of our tour of the 5 Prince Edward County Museums."
Our final trip of the month was to Port Credit to the newly organized event – Artfest Port Credit. At first we thought that the weather was going to "dampen" our journey, but at we neared Toronto, sun shining over Port Credit! This was Lory MacDonald’s newest creation! As we toured the festival, we marveled at the fantastic collection of artists and artisans that had gathered in Port Credit. Congratulations to Lory and Al and the whole Artfest Ontario Team. Across the road from Artfest Port Credit was the Port Credit Boat Show. This was also a great show to visit. The boats on display in the harbour were breath-taking!
"Great artists and artisans at the new Artfest Port Credit!"
Over the years Judi and I have met and talked with many event organizers. It seems that the biggest challenge they face is having enough funds (money) to operate their event. This goes from large, well-attended events, to smaller local events. Some have monies, in the bank, left over from previous years. These funds normally cover the initial start-up costs, but not future programs, such as entertainment, attractions and infrastructure (tents, hydro, signs, etc.). The money for these generally come from sponsors, donations and government grants. The problem is, these additional funds are received AFTER the fact. Entertainers and attractions need to be booked early. Tents, signs and tables need to be ordered and paid for before the event occurs. So, what happens if event organizers count on large sponsorships or grants and make commitments based on these “future” funds being available! And, what happens if the money doesn’t become available or is reduced substantially? Panic? Calm heads? What are the alternatives? Cancel the entertainment (if even possible)? Cancel the event partly or entirely? What about the commitments already made? The answer, of course, should be “none of the above”. Challenges are just that, “challenges”. They need to be recognized and solved. The first step is planning in advance. Acknowledging that this could happen and then creating a contingency plan. Another step could be NOT to count on future funds, unless they are guaranteed in writing. Even then having an emergency “slush fund” available should be part of the contingency plan. However, whatever the challenge, giving up should not be an option. Postponing the event for a year, and regrouping should definitely be considered. As I mentioned in my first article, “festivals and events are very important”, they bring life and well-being to their communities. We should all be thankful for the thousands of volunteers who spend so many hours producing community events. I know that Judi and I do. We hope to see you this summer at one of them!
"And the answer is...?"
The Oh Canada Eh! Game
Canada’s sesquicentennial (150 years) birthday is coming on July 1st, 2017. So we thought it would be fun to test your knowledge about Canada. At the beginning of each week (Monday) we plan on posting an “Oh Canada Eh! Game” question on all of our social media outlets, Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and Ontario Event News. We hope that you will play along and try to answer the questions. If you’d like to, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the correct answer and I will let you know if it’s correct or not. Hopefully you’ll have fun playing the “Oh Canada Eh! Game” and learn more about Canada.
Here are the answers to the one question asked in May.
- May 25th ~ Question: “What northern territory was established on April 1st, 1999?” Answer: “Nunavut”