The many events that take place in Meaford come together in part by the cooperation and coordination of several community groups and a large pool of volunteers who meet each year to share their ideas and initiatives.
The annual event planners meeting, which took place this year on Tuesday March 1 at the Meaford Fire Hall, provide opportunities for community groups to work together on events, and to cross-promote their activities.
This year, participants in the meeting were reminded that their events and activities help to drive economic activity in the municipality.
“I wonder if you all think of yourselves as participating in the economic development of this community - if you don’t - you should. All the work you are doing to draw people to Meaford most definitely results in growth of one form or another – which of course is a major component of 'Economic Development'”, Meaford Councillor Shirley Keaveney told meeting attendees. “I have been saying for years now, decades maybe that Meaford is on the cusp of really taking off - I think from the enthusiasm I am feeling in this room today that many of you will agree with me that we aren't just on the cusp of success anymore – we are living the early stages of the very bright future that lies ahead for this municipality.”
Keaveney, who owns the local Dairy Queen, said that her own business benefits from the hard work of Meaford's event planners – 67 of whom were invited to the March 1 meeting.
“I can speak honestly to this point because I own a business that directly benefits from the efforts of all of you in this room. I have seen fall traffic increase dramatically over the years, it’s amazing to me how we are seeing so many high end cars in Meaford now, tourists are aware of us, they are coming because collectively you have made Meaford a fall destination, our visitors are enjoying what they are experiencing as well as how they are welcomed here. Because of all you do, we are becoming less of a 'drive thru' community,” suggested Keaveney.
In addition to helping drive economic activity, Keaveney said that the volunteers and the organizations they support help strengthen the community.
“There are so many opportunities for us all to work together– witnessing our service clubs and our organizations coming together both here for this meeting and in the field such as they do on Canada Day and at the Family Festival is exceptional – for example I know how often Scarecrow volunteers assist Rotary with events such as their fish fry. Many of you belong to multiple clubs and committees and are well aware of the sharing and support of one to the other that helps to keep our community groups strong and successful,” said Keaveney.
Meaford's 'Head Scarecrow', Marilyn Morris told those in attendance that bringing Meaford's community groups, volunteers, and event planners together began 13 years ago with a small step.
“In the beginning there were two groups keen to work together to produce what we eventually labeled “The Big Fall Weekend” – the Apple Harvest Craft Show and the Scarecrow Invasion & Family Festival. Now, 13 years later, 67 groups & organizations are invited to participate, the focus of which is to create a ‘festival spirit’ for the months of September and October – not just in Meaford, but in our neighbouring counties of Grey, Bruce & Simcoe,” said Morris.
Morris said that the annual meeting is held in March in order to allow Meaford's event planners to be ready to attend 'brochure swaps' in May to help promote Meaford and the many activities and events that can be found here.
In her closing remarks, before the meeting attendees began their discussions of planned events for the coming year, Keaveney thanked the volunteers and organizers, and said that their hard work help cement Meaford's strategic priorities.
“I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation on behalf of Council and the members of the Economic Development Committee to each of you for all you are doing to promote Meaford, to attract visitors, to encourage our residents to come downtown, to support our businesses and to provide fun, cultural events for the Municipality of Meaford. You are creating an environment of pride, vitality and community spirit, making Meaford a more wonderful place to be and living up to the vision of Council's Strategic Priorities.