Festivals and Events Ontario awards feature multiple midwestern Ontario winners

Multiple midwestern Ontario organizations and events were honoured at this week’s Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO) conference.

The 2023 award winners were announced at the Awards Gala, held from March 6 to 8 in Niagara Falls, and the TOP 100 Festivals and Events in Ontario program returned after a two year pandemic break.

A key volunteer with Port Elgin Pumpkinfest was announced as the 2023 Hall of Fame inductee. Joanne Robbins has spent 30 years growing the event from 10,000 visitors to 50,000. Pumpkinfest said the event would never have grown to such heights without Robbins working quietly in the background.

Joanne helped to develop the first Special Event Resource centre in the Province 24 years ago and obtained a grant to build an inventory and a facility capable of signing out event equipment to over 50 events a year,” said a spokesperson from the FEO. “Events across the province can obtain resources such as training, signage, games, PA Speakers and so much more. Another innovative impact that Joanne has had on the community is ability to get non-profit groups to participate in Pumpkinfest. Her passion for the event has helped her convince high school teams, Rotarians, Girl  Guides, Air Cadets and the local church to take on various jobs at the festival.”

Since 2000, FEO has now inducted 47 people into the Hall of Fame, representing festivals, municipalities, organizations, and events from across the province. Each individual named to the FEO Hall of Fame is someone who has dedicated their career to the festival and event industry and who has made a lasting contribution to their community, festival, event, or organization.

The Best Volunteer Program award went to Lucknow’s Music in the Fields.

The Stratford Festival, The Mount Forest Fireworks Festival, Port Elgin Pumpkinfest, The Sound Waterfront Festival, Lighthouse Blues Festival, Lucknow’s Music in the Fields, and the Paisley Blues Festival were among the Top 100 festivals.

As well, The Owen Sound River District won an Innovation award for the 2022 Holiday Magic event.

By Janice MacKay

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