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Holiday giving strong at ‘Spirit of the Season’ fest in Guelph: organizers

The Guelph community were in the giving mood during the Spirit of the Season festival.

The Downtown Guelph Business Association and the Guelph Community Foundation announced that they have raised $29,000 from the two-day event (Dec. 1 to Dec. 2). The lion’s share — $28,000 — came from 22 community sponsors. A further $1,000 came from donations collected at a tree-lighting event hosted by the mayor and council.

Beth Ann Valente, finance director with community foundation, said the turnout was remarkable but that organizers were careful to manage expectations.

“There is always the unknown when people come on to sign on as sponsors,” Valente said.

“We never want to over promise and under deliver. But the two organizations along with the city working together… (we) really put together a great festival and it inspired a lot of confidence in our sponsors to support a really important campaign.”

The first-ever Spirit of the Season festival saw an indoor and outdoor market featuring 18 local vendors, live entertainment and the Guelph Community Santa Parade. A tree-lighting ceremony at Market Square capped off the event.

Valente said the festival also received an indirect boost from the Guelph Storm, which was hosting a game at Sleeman Centre next to the indoor market on opening night.

“The activity throughout the day was consistent,” Valente said. “Then, as everyone was coming through downtown on their way to the Storm game, the indoor market and the outdoor market p —lus the entertainment and the (NorthFIRE) Circus —‚ really brought a lot of people on the Friday.”

The money raised from the Spirit of the Season festival will go towards the Home for Good campaign, an initiative by the community foundation, United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin, and the Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination. It will be used to help build permanent supportive housing.

Valente said the festival was deemed a success and once the Christmas holidays are over, they will start planning on next year’s festival.

“We had such a positive response and our volunteers were excited and exhausted after the two days,” Valente said. “They immediately started talking about ‘what can they do next year, how can they make it better?’”


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