By: David Felker, CEDEC Director
In six municipalities on the Gaspé coast, a project is in place to revitalize and build stronger communities through consultation with citizens, businesses, and partners. One of these municipalities has been working to rebuild its reputation as the agricultural hub that it once was.
On July 14 and 15, 2012, Shigawake, hosted its first ever local products festival to build stronger visibility and links between small businesses and to play a role in the revitalization of this community.
Like any first-time event, it wasn’t clear how successful this event would be. However, shortly after opening its doors to the public, it was evident that this would be a successful venture.
A Beer and Cheese event, which included lively local music, talent, opened the festival with five types of local microbrasserie beer teamed up with five different cheese tastes from Quebec. There was also local strawberry wine matched with chocolates made by hand at the local fine grocer.
Volunteers spent prepared the festival site to impress the many vendors who would visit this community for the first time.
By 10 a.m. Sunday during the festival, 37 vendors had filled the site, inside and out. By noon, waves of people were passing through with up to 1000 people estimated to have visited our little festival by the end of the day.
So was it a success? The vendors seem to think so. To many it represented new opportunity that wasn’t available before.
“I have not done as much business here as I normally do at the big market in New Richmond, but there the clients come because they know I will be there,” said Jean Guy Duchesne. “This market (in Shigawake) has created a whole new market I did not know existed! So, thank you! I have possibly thirty new clients because of today!”
And it’s not just about finding new customers. It was an opportunity for business-to-business networking too. Duchesne didn’t just find new customers, he found new contacts like Trevor Buttle of Hilltop Creations, to help him grow his business profile.
“I have met other business people today that want to do business with me, share ideas, and send business my way!” said Trevor Buttle, member of CEDEC Small Business Support Network. “How cool is that!”
Other businesses were pleasantly surprised at their success at this event.
“I brought about $400.00 worth of stock with me to sell,” said Etienne Goyer of Le Jardin du Village. “I have about $50.00 of stock left. Awesome!”
“I have to go home,” added Jeannie Hewitt of Boulangerie Chez Jeannie. “I sold out!”
And then there were the customer testimonials:
“I had no idea that is this was available in my own backyard! Who knew that all these businesses existed?” said Nikki Hayes, a director of the Agricultural Society of Shigawake
“I have been home twice to bring back car loads of people,” said Ann Kelly of New Carlisle, a 46 kilometre round trip to Shigawake. “What a great initiative!”
Although the clean-up was extensive at the end of two full days, the result was worth it. We were very pleased with the end result. The profits will be used to build more market-specific infrastructures for the fair and music festivals.
The Agricultural Society, the vendors, and the community are all looking forward to future festivals and market involvement on a permanent basis, during the fair, music festival, and hopefully all year round.
Through these efforts, we are looking forward to expanding the vendor network and playing a significant role in strengthening our local business community and economy.
We hope to see you at our future festivals in Shigawake!