It's hard to choose a favourite community project, but the Londonderry Playforest definitely comes close to the top of the list. A one-of-a-kind natural playground built within a pocket of forest at Londonderry, Nova Scotia is the first of it's kind in Canada. Amanda had the great pleasure of co-creating this special place and seeing the project through from an idea on paper to full fruition. Numerous stakeholders, funding partners, and amazing community volunteers were instrumental in bringing this development to life.
Below are photos taken soon after construction was complete. Today, the Playforest is lush and green, and a wonderful place to be. If you would like to take a visit, you can find it at 4058 Mines Bass River Road in Londonderry, NS.
We are not going to lie. We were definitely a little scared at first to take on the 2016 edition of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition for a few different reasons.
For one, it is a huge event. One that spans over 6 days with many moving pieces all. of. the. time. In fact, there are 45 shows, entertainment events, and special happenings over the course of Exhibition week, and each of those require special attention, coordination, and logistical know-how. On top of that, we only had 5 months to plan it. Our saving grace was an amazing and dedicated volunteer planning committee that worked along-side us to make the 70th Anniversary of the NSPE one to truly celebrate.
Another reason we were hesitant to take the contract in the beginning is one those from the local area will understand when we say there have been some ''issues'' regarding the management of the Exhibition grounds in the past, and in terms of the Exhibition event - many locals felt the event had severely declined over the last number of years. So, we felt it was risky to tie our name to it. But, we also believed in the importance of this agricultural fair, which is actually the longest standing event in Colchester County. We also believed in the potential of the Exhibition Grounds and felt by making a successful Exhibition happen, one that folks could feel proud of, that would be a step toward a better future for the Exhibition grounds (more recently known at the NSPEC Complex) as a whole.
We started with a rebrand, and worked closely with one of our favourite graphic guys, Ben Brush, to pull together a new look and new feel to help frame a new promise of what folks could come to expect from the 2016 NSPE.
Then, we set our sights on sponsorship. With a newly designed sponsorship benefits package we were very happy to secure Masstown Market as presenting sponsor and it truly was a perfect fit with both the event and the Market having roots in agriculture and supporting local. In the end the Exhibition saw over $100,000 in sponsorship in cash and in-kind contributions (many of which assisted with venue and site improvements including new paint on the Industrial Building, site-grading, site clean-up, signage and more). To us, that is a testament of the tremendous amount of community support that exists for the NSPE, and it was a pleasure to be a part of it.
Next was community engagement. Due to the above mentioned ‘’issues,” there was hesitancy and skepticism not just from us, but from many community residents and stakeholders. We took the time to meet with as many committee heads, stakeholders, and anyone interested in sharing their two cents worth as we could. That was probably the most important piece of the puzzle. Knowing what those who have been through it before thought worked, should be changed, should be added, and what should be forgotten was integral to planning and the final outcomes and successes.
In the end we were happy to report a 50% increase in attendance over the previous year, and a 28% increase in revenues after all expenses paid, but we feel the greatest success came in the form of the pride felt by those involved, and the comments from attendees stating that the event “just felt different,” and “was clean and well organized.” We are also happy to report the invitation to return has been accepted and we look forward to building on all the success of 2016 and feedback received to make the 2017 NSPE all it should be. We are very much looking forward to seeing you there!