Tillsonburg's Family Day focuses on affordable family fun.
What started in 2008 with family swims at the Tillsonburg Community Centre and a scavenger hunt at Annandale National Historic Site has grown over the years.
It's still affordable, it's still fun, it's still local. It's just bigger family fun. Last year they had more than 1,800 participants.
"We see the smiling faces and the laughing," said Brent Shepherd after the 2015 Family Day, one of three TCC Family Day organizing committee members with Sarabeth Strathdee and Rick Cox, supported by their 'zone leaders' and a large team of community volunteers.
"Is it local? Yep. Is it affordable? Absolutely. The sponsors, the volunteers, donations of product, all of that helped make it affordable. Those are our guideposts for success."
Last Monday Shepherd was at Tillsonburg Town Council with his daughter Paige to present information on the Monday, February 15, 2016 Tillsonburg Family Day.
"There are several mainstays," said Shepherd, noting the events at the community centre are divided into 'zones.' All events are free, and there is a nominal fee for breakfast and lunch.
"We want it to be affordable, and you tell with the $1 per person (breakfast) that it will be affordable," said Shepherd. "That's going to be in the Lions Den. Also, if they choose to be there for lunch, there will be affordable pizza and drinks."
New this year is a Spaghetti Dinner, organized by the Tillsonburg and Area Optimist Club.
The ice zone is open to free skating on the Kinsmen Memorial Arena side from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the exception of time when they need to clean the ice.
"We always try to do something a little bit different last year," said Shepherd, noting the zone for Try It Ice Sports on the Colin Campbell Community Arena side, "and this is something we tried new last year. We have curling rocks there, they pebble a portion of the ice and we had some people from the Curling Club come and help out. People had a chance to try that for the first time and we're very excited about that again this year.
"We're also going to do broomball," said Shepherd, reminding people helmets – hockey or bicycle – are required. "Make sure you bring your helmets."
The Carnival in the Lions Auditorium is the busiest of all the Family Day zones.
"From 10 until 3, it's hopping. We've got bouncy castles, cotton candy, popcorn, games... A very exciting place to be – and loud. It's really great fun."
Three free swim times are available at the Kinsmen Pool. Reservations can be made at the website, tillsonburgfamilyday.ca where people can sign up their family.
"After the first 15 minutes (of each swim), it becomes first come, first serve. We try to offer opportunities to those that like to schedule and those who just want go for it. We have a good balance, it was really well done last year."
Last year the toddler area was moved to the Marwood Lounge.
"That was very successful. Some games, some interactive toys and education-type things, and very popular. People were asking for that to come back again this year."
The entertainment zone at the Tillsonburg Senior Centre has been expanded this year.
"We're going to have a reptile show in the morning and afternoon. And we're going to have a mammal show in the morning and afternoon. I always love to see the people's faces when we show them the big reptiles... The parents kind of grimace, but the kids love it."
One of the unique, new features this year is 'roaming entertainment.'
"It's someone who is going to be doing tricks and jumps," said Shepherd, looking forward to Billy Bonkers (and Matilda). "We think it's going to be a really great addition."
Summing up, Shepherd says the Tillsonburg Family Day happens every year "because of sponsorship, people who give money, but also people's donation of time and energy. To run a day like this requires volunteers... We've broken down our day into smaller hour-and-a-half chunks, trying to split it up so (volunteers) can be part of it, but also have their own family time as well."
Shepherd made a pitch for more volunteers. Contact the committee through the website at tillsonburgfamily.ca.
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