The Rogers Hometown Hockey festival is coming to Tillsonburg this weekend.
The two-day outdoor festival, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20 and Sunday, Nov. 21, will be followed by a Monday, Nov. 22 broadcast from Tillsonburg by Ron MacLean and Tara Stone.
“They are expecting as many as 1,000 people at a time on the Saturday and Sunday,” said Chris Baird, Tillsonburg’s director of Recreation, Culture and Parks. “They have live music, musicians and there will be interactive displays.”
Participants need to register at the Rogers Hometown Hockey website hometownhockey.com (and designate an 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. time slot) for electronic tickets.
All COVID-19 protocols will be followed including maintaining physical distancing and face masks at the festival. Along with the ticket, proof of vaccination and photo ID (12 and older), and contact tracing information, are required for entry.
To ensure safety at the event the Hometown Hockey festival has prioritized “outdoor and touchless digital experiences accessible from your mobile device.”
Kids can bring their hockey sticks to participate in activities including the community rink.
On Saturday night, the Town of Tillsonburg will have fireworks at 7 p.m. at Memorial Park near the Tillsonburg Community Centre.
A Tillsonburg Community Santa Claus parade has been planned starting at 11 a.m. from the Avondale Church parking lot, circling up Broadway to the Town Centre mall (Bridge Street East) and back to its starting point via Harvey Street.
The plan was to make a big event even bigger, said Baird.
“We said, ‘Let’s really make this a fun event.’”
Since 2014, Rogers Hometown Hockey has celebrated hockey in more than over 130 towns/cities across Canada.
Now in its eighth season, the all-ages festival includes interactive hockey experiences, Augmented Reality, live entertainment, NHL alumni meet and greets, free food, partner experiences and more.
The Hometown Hockey festival in Tillsonburg had originally been pencilled in for February, but it moved up to Nov. 20-21.
“Weather-wise, we knew it was going to be winter and cold,” said Baird.
Although it snowed on the weekend (and early Monday morning), the long-term forecast as of Nov. 15 showed 5-6 C temperatures for the 20-21.
“It’s going to be cool for sure, but I don’t think we’re into anything like blizzards.”
After the festival ends the equipment is packed up, ready to move on to the next Ontario site in Grimsby.
“They do this every week,” Baird noted. “It is quite a production, for sure, and I think it’s exciting for (Tillsonburg).”
Ron MacLean and Tara Stone will do a broadcast from Tillsonburg on Monday.
“A lot of people have been saying, ‘Oh great, we get free tickets we can go and watch the NHL game at the Tillsonburg Community Centre…’ I wish,” Baird laughed. “We’ve had to set people straight on that.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins will be playing in Winnipeg that night (8:30 p.m.).