Wesley Clover Parks Celebrates a Successful Summer Season and Moves into Fall/Winter Programming
December 3, 2021
Notwithstanding the COVID restrictions still in place during the Quarter, operations at Wesley Clover Parks were adapted to the rules and activities continued forward in positive ways. Here are some of the latest highlights:
- Coming to a close this Quarter, the 2021 season at the Wesley Clover Parks Campground proved to be the most successful to date. Despite challenges that included mandated delays in opening the season and restrictions that impacted international guest bookings, final revenues and site occupancy rates still outpaced previous years. Nearly three quarters of the campers were new guests to the Campground, and more than 80% travelled 160km or more to visit the area. With domestic-first travel plans and RV rentals growing in popularity, the RV sites proved to be the most popular by a considerable margin.
- As soon as the Camping gates closed for the final time this season, work began to transform the site into the very spooky Halloween attraction called Dead Wood Haunted Drive. Returning for a second year in an even more frightening fashion, this live, not-for-the-kids entertainment event was quite popular last year, and no doubt the rave reviews it garnered made it that much more so this season. And as soon as the Halloween festivities passed, the site was transformed once again into the much less spooky Magic of Lights Christmas spectacle. With new installations and a wonderful charity-of-choice recipient in the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), this enduring family event will run until early January and should prove as popular as ever. We will update you again next Quarter.
- COVID restrictions delayed the start of equestrian competitions throughout the region. However, working in collaboration with veterinarians, city officials and public health authorities, Wesley Clover Parks developed an approved events plan that provided for engaging tournaments while ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved. Under that plan, 11 equestrian competitions were held, including four national-level show jumping tournaments, one national-level horse trial and seven provincial-level hunter/jumper competitions. In all, a modified season totalling 37 days of competition was held, to the enjoyment of the competitors, sponsors and likely the horses too!
In terms of some of the events themselves, the sixth running of the national-level Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments welcomed more than 1,700 horses to the site over four weeks. The one disappointment was the fact that access to the site was restricted to essential persons and limited hospitality guests only. General spectators were not able to attend the events in person.
Not to be denied, the team worked with equestrian-industry broadcast professionals to develop a live-streaming program and share highlights of the events online. All the action from the Grand Prix field was streamed on Facebook Live, and select class competitions were shared on CBC Sports and The Horse Network.
By the time the Tournaments ended, more than 200,000 minutes of video had been viewed by more than 60,000 unique users on Facebook, while the CBC Sports and The Horse Network broadcasts generated more than 100,000 views and 555,000 impressions.
This viewership response definitely pleased the show organizers, the competitors, and of course, the event sponsors. It expanded the audience for the events well beyond the local fan base. As such, in parallel with live audiences, this program will become a regular feature of the events going forward.
- A new addition was also added to the event calendar this season. For the first time, Wesley Clover Parks was successful in luring the Trillium Championships to Ottawa. This major equestrian event had been hosted in Toronto the previous 24 years, so this was quite a coup. The largest equestrian competition in the province based on number of competitors, the event brought hundreds of horses and thousands of visitors to the city this year, to the benefit of the local tourism and hospitality industries. And the successful staging means The Parks is in line to host the event again in 2022. Fingers are crossed …
- The extensive outdoor spaces available at Wesley Clover Parks also enticed a number of third-party event organizers to leverage the site in a safe manner this season. For example, after having to cancel their 2020 event, the team at Mud Girl Run succeeded in inviting hundreds of women back to The Parks to participate in their challenging 5.0 Km overland race that this year featured 17 very muddy obstacles.
- After a successful 2020 debut, the Drive-In Experience Ottawa also returned, offering viewers a range of entertainment from the safety of their vehicle. Features included dozens of movies, the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, graduation ceremonies, dance recitals and more. And new this Quarter, the Wall Candy Art Expo invited the public to browse in person a display of creations from more than 70 local artists, each of whom were able to stage their exhibits in one of our temporary horse stalls. Well cleaned in advance of course …
All said, the summer of 2021 proved to be another successful Quarter at The Parks, despite the lingering challenges of social gathering. But as noted, there is no time to rest — fall and winter programing is now well under way. Look for more updates in our next issue. wesleycloverparks.com