Tillsonburg's Family Day has always focused on affordable family fun.
What started in 2008 with family swims at the Tillsonburg Community Centre and a popular Scavenger Hunt at Annandale National Historic Site has grown over the years.
It's still affordable, it's still fun, and it's still local. And it's bigger than ever. Last year they had more than 1,800 participants.
"We see the smiling faces and the laughing," said Brent Shepherd, 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."
The majority of Tillsonburg Family Day events, divided into 'zones,' are at the Community Centre. All are free, although there is a modest fee for the pancake breakfast ($1/person) 8-10 a.m., pizza lunch ($1.50/slice) 11-2, and new this year, a spaghetti supper ($2) from 4-6 p.m.
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 the ice is resurfaced. Curling and broomball are 'Try It' sports on the Colin Campbell Community Arena ice.
"We always try to do something a little bit different last year," said Shepherd.
The Carnival in the Lions Auditorium is the busiest of all the Family Day zones.
"From 10 until 3, it's hopping," said Shepherd. "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 families.
"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, interactive toys and education-type things, very popular."
The entertainment zone at the Tillsonburg Senior Centre – also located in the TCC – has been expanded.
"We're going to have a reptile show in the morning and afternoon," said Shepherd. "And we're going to have a mammal show in the morning and afternoon. The kids love it."
One new unique feature 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 said 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."
For more information visit their community Family Day website at tillsonburgfamilyday.ca.