Last night was an opportunity for the Bon Soo committee to say thank you to the many volunteers, sponsors and supporters of the Ontario Winter Carnival.
Saultonline had a chance to sit down with the Manager of Bon Soo, Kerrie DePoli to ask about this year’s carnival, did it meet expecations and what goes on now that Mr. Bon Soo is taking a break after 10 fun filled days.
SAULT ONLINE: Bon Soo 2014 is in the history books. How was it overall? attendance, financially. What highlights can you share?
Kerrie DiPoli: It was wonderful! Attendance was up and we had great winter weather for the Tim Hortons Winter Playground, and great venues for the indoor activities.
The overarching highlight was our return to our downtown roots. The support of our partners as we made this move was great, and it was so well received.
We were so pleased to celebrate local talent at our New York Fries Youth Concert this year.
SAULT ONLINE: You, your staff and volunteer board work endless hours every year to put this on, what drives you guys to do this year in and year out?
Kerrie DiPoli: It really is about the Volunteers. Our Board spends hundreds of hours each year, and so many others come forward to Chair specific events, to help on site and do all the things that need to be done. I am a lucky, lucky girl; I serve a truly great Board, I work with great people and we get to bring a fun event to our Community.
I am confident saying that although everyone has different favorite aspects, we all really enjoy the people, and the sense of Community. We have a good time with each other… It’s Bon Soo – it’s lots of fun!
SAULT ONLINE: The carnival is packed with events, both big and small – how does that whole process start? Who decides on the carnival line up?
Kerrie DiPoli: That is a great question! The Carnival is comprised of activities that we distill into two main categories: “Bon Soo Events” and “Community Events”. One classic Community Event is the Kiwanis Club of Lakeshore Pancake Breakfast. Nobody loves that breakfast more than Mr Bon Soo, but it is organized and executed completely by our friends at the Kiwanis Club of Lakeshore. Bon Soop and Jam Can Curling are two other classic Community Events.
Bon Soo Events include the Tim Hortons Winter Playground, Walmart North Bon Tots Sunday Fun-day! and SnoMadness – which we are so happy to have back.
We welcome Community Events of all types. Bon Soo Events are developed by the Bon Soo team. We try to respond to public feedback, identify gaps in our programming and complement popular existing activities. We assess all the ideas considering budget, other resources and schedule, then decide as a group. Those are sometimes lively conversations, everyone has worked on a concept they want to see go forward, and makes their case. We really talk it through, reach an agreement, and away we go. Our Executive prioritizes communication, and we have developed a system that works for us to share information and ideas between meetings. Everyone is really engaged, I am often surprised at the outcome of decisions when I look back to the beginning of the decision making process.
SAULT ONLINE: If someone has an idea for an event – what do they do?
Kerrie DiPoli: Talk to us! The sooner the better! People are often surprised how early these plans are made. By October, the majority of programming decisions are made. Right now, when Bon Soo is fresh in people’s minds, we would love to hear their ideas. The Board met last night, and most of the agenda was future events.
SAULT ONLINE: No doubt, you are already thinking of Bon Soo 52 – what hopes and dreams do you have for next year?
Kerrie DiPoli: It is a high priority to support the local arts and performance communities. We are committed to the Marquee, and it will return in 2015; but it is just a beginning step on our journey to celebrate the arts.
My greatest hope is that community engagement continues – and maybe even grows. The people who take the time to call or email, who pop into the office; those conversations are so helpful. We say “Bon Soo is for you”, and we really mean it. Another aspect of that engagement is our partners. We have developed such great partnerships in recent years, we all do better together!
SAULT ONLINE: Anything you can share about next year? what can people look forward too?
Kerrie DiPoli: Something we are excited about for 2015 is our partnership with Tourism Sault Ste Marie to welcome the 2015 Central Regional Synchronized Skating Championships. This is a new event for our City, and a perfect fit for Bon Soo 52.
Sault Online would like to thank Kerrie DiPoli, Mr. Bon Soo, the entire Board as well as the many volunteers who help Sault Ste. Marie remain proud to be a vibrant and spirited Community! Don’t forget to check out the Sault Social Bon Soo Group Photo Galleries for an extra smile or two!!!