Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Birth of the Festival Nomad (Part One)

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 decoded 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 25 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 as much about festivals as we thought we did. There are a lot of different types of festivals an events out there. I started to explore the Internet. I “Goggled” festivals and events and found millions of hits worldwide. 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 (FEO), 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. 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 lived 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 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… (To Be Continued