Tillsonburg's fun, local and affordable Family Day celebration at the Tillsonburg Community Centre is ready to go on Monday, Feb. 19.
All of the information can be found online at the recently updated website www.tillsonburgfamilyday.ca.
"We always try to make it as fun as possible, and keep the theme 'fun, local and affordable,'" said Brent Shepherd from the Family Day organizing committee. "Those are the three pillars of our event. We try to hit those every year, and it's been going really well.
"That's the whole point of this event, it's the community coming together to put something great on for families.
"It's a great building, too. The community can be proud of their facilities and they can be proud of the people that come and volunteer to be part of it and make something great happen for the town. And we're glad to be part of that."
The RBC Ice Zone returns at the Kinsmen Memorial Arena and Colin Campbell Community Arena with some changes for 2018.
"The RBC Ice Zone free skate always has a lot of people," said Shepherd. "We tried a few 'Try It' sports on the community rink (curling and ringette last year), but this year we decided to open it up and have a free skate on both rinks."
The RBC Ice Zone free skating is available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Children must wear helmets on the ice.
"We try to do some small adjustments each year to see what kind of value it brings to the event," said Shepherd.
The most popular venue since it was added in 2014 has been the Carnival, located in the Lions Auditorium from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"The Carnival is one of those things you don't have to change a whole lot. It's one of our pillars of the event and we have bounce castles and other carnival-type games. Tillsonburg Soccer Club will be there as well. And of course there is going to be free cotton candy and popcorn like we do every year. It's always a well-used area in the complex, a lot of excitement."
Another popular, free event is the swimming. If you'd like to reserve your family's spot, find the link online at www.tillsonburgfamilyday.ca/swimming.html or the Family Day website, where you give your name, time slot, and number of people.
"We have three swim times, and it seems to work pretty well. We've used this system for several years now."
The 90-minute swimming time slots are 8:30-10 a.m., 11:30-1, and 3-4:30 p.m
"It's worked well for several years - what we call 'reservations.' So people can go online, they can reserve a spot, and we can hold it for them for 15 minutes at the start of each swim time. It helps people plan out their day. If they aren't there in the first 15 minutes (of their designated swim time), they simply forfeit the reservation and we allow someone else to go in. It's a pretty simple process."
After 15 minutes anyone can use the pool, unless it reaches maximum capacity.
"If people just show up and want to go swimming, they can... they just have to wait (if it fills up). If someone goes out, someone else can go in. That seems to work very well because it strikes a balance."
The Toddler Zone returns in 2018, located in the Rotary Room.
Zilli Zi Zoo 2 Go can be found in the Marwood Lounge from 9:30-10 a.m, 11:30-12, 1:30-2, and 3:15-3:45 p.m.
"It's very popular," said Shepherd, noting the free 'zoo show' will include a variety of reptiles.
Another entertainment option is The Ricky Magic Show, a magical act 'loaded with comedy, magic, puppetry and storytelling,' with shows at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Lions Den. Seating is limited, doors open 15 minutes before each show.
Over the past six years six, elements have been added, some have evolved, and in many cases switched rooms inside the Tillsonburg Community Centre.
"We've tried different things in different spaces," said Shepherd, noting the Carnival has been the exception because it requires the size of the Lions Auditorium. "Basically we're filling up the whole complex."
The idea was to improve traffic flow as the event continues to grow. In 2014, they had hoped to reach attendance of 1,000-1,500 - and got 1,500. Last year's event easily topped 2,000... and was closer to 2,500.
"The addition of the Senior Centre was wonderful... it was wonderful to be able to do the food there, it really works well. We used it for entertainment one year, and we had the food there last year, so it's been great. We're very grateful for that."
Most of the Family Day activities at the community centre are free, but there is a small charge for the optional breakfast and lunch available in the Senior Centre.
The McDonald's pancake breakfast ($2/person) runs 8-10 a.m. and Gino's pizza lunch ($2/slice or $12/8 slices) is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"So if people want to go to breakfast first they can go straight to the Senior Centre doors," Shepherd noted.
Event sponsors include RBC Royal Bank, Town of Tillsonburg, Zilli Zi Zoo 2 Go, Bethel Pentecostal Church, Cutting Edge Signs, Grand River Inflatables & Games, Knights of Columbus, McDonald's, Sonbeam Christian Daycare, Station Arts Centre, Theatre Tillsonburg Camp, Tillsonburg Christian Ministerial, and Tillsonburg Soccer Club.