How Ottawa festivals are working to make 2017 a big year


As Canada 150 celebrations ramp up in the capital, annual Ottawa festivals are planning for a big boost in attendance.

Earlier this month, the Tulip Festival drew a record crowd of about a million people. After the festival ended, executive director Michel Gauthier said he would use his experience to ensure other festival directors were ready for the crowds this summer.

One of the main ways festivals work together is through membership in Ottawa Festivals, a not-for-profit service organization that includes about 100 festivals and fairs in the city.

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“We help to amplify their voice” through networking events and workshops on topics like marketing, finance and security planning, said executive director Carole Anne Piccinin.

“Often festival producers have to make great things happen out of something small,” Piccinin said, adding the organization also runs a range of both informal and formal events where festival organizers can give feedback to each other.

The City of Ottawa also works closely with every festival happening in the city through its Event Central team.

Amanda Mullins, senior advisor with Event Central, said the team manages a special events advisory committee that includes emergency services, traffic management, OC Transpo, Ottawa Public Health, and sometimes representatives from a Business Improvement Area (BIA) or the National Capital Commission (NCC) to work with the festival.

Mullins said the team’s job is to ensure festival organizers have properly planned for things like managing traffic, transportation or alcohol to ensure the event is safe and successful for festival goers and that other community members are not negatively impacted.

They also run a formal debrief session after each festival.

Mullins said her office is working with more events this year because of Canada 150, going from an average of just under 500 events a year, to 600 in 2017.

“As a result, co-ordination with festivals is definitely important,” she said, giving as an example that the Skylounge event will be working together with the Jazz Festival to coordinate their load in and load out schedule.

“That’s not what the customer necessarily sees, but it’s really important,” she said.

This story originally appeared in Metro News.

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