The organizers behind Whistler's inaugural Great Outdoors Festival (GO Fest) are encouraging resort companies to showcase their outdoor adventure products this May Long Weekend through a business expo.
There are many ways that businesses can leverage the festival, which runs from May 16 to 19 throughout the resort, with an expected attendance of up to 1,700 participants. Whistler Chamber of Commerce CEO Val Litwin explained the importance of local businesses aligning with high-profile resort events like GO Fest.
"The reason why these expos are great, and coming together to figure out how best to animate these events and how to leverage them, is by really understanding the philosophy that when these festivals come to town we often think they're coming to perform, but we're always the ones that are on a stage," he said.
Festival producers Crankworx Events Inc. are suggesting several ways resort businesses can get involved with the four-day celebration of outdoor recreation, like creating a GO Fest-themed window display, offering a special dining, shopping or activity offer throughout the event, creating a festival-themed drink, desert or entrée at your restaurant or café and featuring festival-themed products.
Expo spaces will be located along the Village Stroll from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day of the festival and are free of charge, subject to availability. The expo is intended to be primarily a showcase for brands, not a store, and organizers are requesting that only one brand be exhibited per booth.
"The whole point of the business expo is to really reinforce the training and education component around how we're the perfect place for outdoor adventure," Litwin said. "So it's not meant to be a mish-mash garage sale … this is about featuring products that facilitate epic adventures here in Whistler."
One example of how the expo will be leveraged is at Showcase Snowboards, which will feature a Burton brand riglet, special gear developed specifically for children learning how to ride in a safe and fun manner. The smaller, softer flexing boards, boots, bindings and specially-designed features make it easier for kids to pick up the basic skills of riding.
One of the goals of the expo is to create momentum for retail outlets and their brands so they see the value of investing in the festival for years to come. With the negative reputation May Long Weekend has garnered over the years in Whistler, Litwin said it's important that resort businesses play their part in helping to shift the perception of the Victoria Day holiday here.
"GO Fest is really the antithesis of the old stuff that's been happening (on May Long Weekend), so I think everyone should be proud to be associated with what Go Fest is trying to do," he said.
"Everything we do in Whistler is a team sport. As a community we owe it to each other to participate in these events and help elevate them, so the more we come together to reinforce the themes (of GO Fest) and engage with guests, the better it will do."
So far, 12 businesses have signed up for a display booth at the expo, although space is still available for others to get involved. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Registration forms can be found on the chamber website at www.whistlerchamber.com.