Neustadt Ontario hosted their first annual Fibre Festival on July 13th, 2013. Most of the town was involved with numerous locations hosting an exhibit or sponsoring the event to some level.
My review is based on attending several festivals. I’m also the Social Media Director of Creativ Festival which gives me an edge of knowing what consumers and guests like to see.
I was nervous upon arrival as the Fibre Arts Festival had started an hour earlier and the town was still very quiet. I started to second guess if I was actually on the right day. There was very little signage to indicate the festival was going on. I was expecting the town to be decorated with ribbons but it appeared to be a regular day.
As a non-resident of Neustadt, I didn’t know where to park. I was concerned if I park in a parking lot belonging to a store that I would be tagged or towed. There was no signage to direct us. Though I had researched about this festival, I couldn’t find any information about parking. I decided to park at the Mill Antique Store. For next year, I hope they can include parking information with their marketing. It would greatly help out of town’ers visiting.
I walked into the Antique Store and asking if I need to buy a passport before walking the town. The owner just shrugged his shoulder’s and said he didn’t know.
I was thinking to myself, this is a town festival, I would think he would be better informed about what the town was doing. I suddenly felt I haven’t done enough research to know the procedures of what to do to get started. It took a bystander to inform me on the procedures on purchasing a $5 passport and where to get one. In retrospect, he wasn’t a sponsor of the event and is probably outside of the communications loop.
I walked down to Village Creations to purchase a Passport. I was able to have my questions answered and get a general overview of the town’s layout so I could walk the tour. Thanks to Village Creations, I was able to get my tour off to a better start. I also met Maggie, a fan. Together with Maggie, I walked the rest of my day with her.
Mags and I walked over to the Museum. A greeter by the name of Marianne was really nice and helpful. You can tell she is proud of her town. She made you feel welcome.
The stores are mixed between stores that are vacant. Neustadt has a quaint feeling to the town. I have been here before on several previous occasions. It’s the type of town that has antique markets and stores that you would stop at while traveling to and from the cottage. What is clearly obvious is the home town feeling. When walking by residents, they people were talking about other local residents. You could hear town gossip or personal stories being shared.
Many of the exhibits were quilting based. Not surprised, it’s Canada’s largest hobby for women. There were a lot of exquisite exhibits of crafts-woman-ship. I was really excited by seeing creativity flow freely. For this aspect, Neustadt hit the nail on the head for different levels of projects that would be exciting for any level of crafter.
Quilts ranged from traditional looks to pre-printed graphics and etc. You could see the fine stitch work up close. This was also true for all other crafting projects. This is great for enthusiastic crafters looking for ideas.
The crowds were older in generation. I would classify myself, age 40, as being young amongst the guests.
There wasn’t anything for kids at this festival, nor any exhibits or activities for kids. I seen a few kids with their parents and I was thinking if I was 10 years old, seeing quilts and hand crafted projects would not be something I wouldn’t be very patient with my mom about.
There might not be a market for having younger people at this type of festival; however, this is the only way I can see a crafting genres not dying off. We need to continue to inspire the youth. This event wasn’t marketed for kids, which explains why there were few kids. In my opinion, this would stop a family outing of parents with kids. I think there is opportunity here for future festivals.
Participating churches were involved in the exhibiting locations. One thing that really got to me was the lack of signage on the churches for knowing where to enter the church. For next year, they need to print up signs and post them on the doors or put up arrows outside the churches to direct the tour. With two churches, I found myself not knowing where to enter as there were no signs on the door. I questioned whether I was at the right location. Standardized bright neon coloured signs to look for would be helpful.
One of the best exhibits and locations was Cozy Quilts. They were doing demos of rug hooking. A young girl was sitting at the table. She was really insightful, patient and knows rug hooking inside and out. Maggie and I sat with her for 20 minutes with each of us trying out antique rug hooking. This is a hobby I could get addicted to. We were near the end of the tour by the time we had discovered this. For a fibre festival, I would have love to see more demos of techniques and hands on activities. This is a perfect opportunity to allow people like myself who are interested or curious about crafting to become engaged. This alone can create sales opportunities for the town and give a crafter a place to start a new hobby.
During the tour, people kept commenting that the one church in Normandy, outside of town, was the best location to attend. The rumours of this discovery proved to be true.
There was a good mix of knitting, crochet, rug hooking, quilting and sewing projects at this location. There was something for everyone and I was really inspired even by non-crochet items I had seen. I can appreciate the work involved in the projects showcased at all locations. I would think that the type of consumer that would attend this show would need to understand the elabourate techniques of crafts-woman-ship.
Finally, I ran into an exhibitor, Blues Carnival Fusion. They create a float and section displayed at Caribana in Toronto. They asked me if I would like to participate in 2014 by getting up in costume and being part of Caribana. This is something I would love to do. The organizer was insightful and helpful.
Though, I have offered a number of suggestions for improvements above, I would say they did a great job in involving the entire town. The $5.00 Passport Fee is nominal and of great value. The location of the town is great and easy to get to. Every new festival always has to see where improvements can be made after it’s run once or twice to know how to better organize and direct guests.
If you are interested in being inspired with quilting, rug hooking, knitting and crochet, this event, if run again next year, would be a great day outing.