The 2011 Launch of the Festival Season Celebrated Culinary Experiences and Ottawa Festivals 15th Anniversary

OTTAWA, ON – Marking the start of the 2011 Festival Season, Ottawa Festivals hosted its sixth annual Launch of the Festival Season at Ottawa’s City Hall on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. This year’s event celebrated not only the beginning of the festival season, but also a significant milestone for Ottawa Festivals – its 15th Anniversary.

“This year we wanted to celebrate the history of the organization and the industry,” Barbara Stacey, Executive Director of Ottawa Festivals, “There have been many significant accomplishments that deserve to be recognized and I think we achieved that; it was such a success.”

Ottawa Festivals has grown since it was initially established and has surpassed the original expectations of its founders.  “Since it began, Ottawa Festivals has accomplished so much more in many ways,” says Mark Monahan, Executive and Artistic Director of Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest who was a founding member of Ottawa Festivals and its first president.

“It started out just producing an annual brochure that lists all the festivals,” continues Monahan, “Now it brings the community together, raises the profile of the industry and festivals, and offers the Job Creation Program that allows members to access resources and volunteers.”

Close to 300 guests attended this year’s Launch including representatives of Ottawa’s festival and tourism industry; volunteers; City of Ottawa council members and staff; and 15 Launch of the Festival Season Contest finalists.

To open the event, Ottawa Festivals debuted a special video that commemorated the organization’s 15 year history and featured comments from members of partner organizations and industry.

“We [City of Ottawa] are looking forward to another great season of festivals this year,” said Mayor Jim Watson in the Ottawa Festivals 15th Anniversary video, “Thank you for all of the great work you do, whether you’re an artist, an administrator or a volunteer. We appreciate the economic activity the festivals bring; the fun, the culture and the excitement.”

Pleased with the benefits of being a member of Ottawa Festivals, Michel Gauthier, President of the Rideau Canal Festival, relays his gratitude when he said, “it’s a pleasure to work with the Ottawa Festivals Network and it’s a pleasure to receive services from them as well.

“Who knew we would become this organization that’s supporting many, many festivals and helping to create Ottawa as a festival and event city.”

Mayor Jim Watson addressed the crowd and highlighted the importance of the festival industry for the local economy and tourism industry. The Mayor added how collaboration between Ottawa Festivals, its members and the City has been significant for the growth and success of the industry.

The importance of collaboration was echoed by John Brooman, President of Ottawa Festivals, as he spoke about Ottawa Festivals’ successful history and its role in sustaining a strong festival industry.

Stu Schwartz, aka Stuntman Stu from Majic 100FM, entertained the attendees as the emcee. Moving throughout the tables and engaging guests were a few of Ottawa’s local buskers, who included Nick Miller and Brian Wilson (the “Cow Guys”) and Elliot Smith, a magician. Jean Pigott Place was also decorated with creative balloon sculptures that were crafted by Brad Wood and a music performance by singer and songwriter Marc Charron added to the carnival atmosphere of the event.

To celebrate this year’s theme, Culinary Experiences, a variety of cultural foods were served by Dantessa Restaurant. In addition, four food vendors from the Ottawa region offered delicious dessert samples for attendees to try. Each vendor offered a unique dessert from Belgian waffles and specialty cookies to cheesecake and ice cream. The businesses’ presence at the launch helped boost their promotion as festival and community members became more aware of their speciality treats.

The winner of the Launch of the Festival Season Contest was drawn and the prize pack of passes to many Ottawa Festivals’ Member’s events was awarded to Julie Charron.

About Ottawa Festivals

Ottawa Festivals is a not-for-profit organization that represents close to 60 not-for-profit festivals, special events and fairs that take place in the National Capital Region. In partnership with the City of Ottawa, Employment Ontario and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the organization manages a number of programs to develop and sustain the industry to contribute to positive benefits that impact the community.