by Kevin Lee
It all started back in August 2013 when Ottawa Senators fans were made aware of Cannonfest in Columbus, a fan organized event that's hitting its 5th year this month. By all accounts on social media, it was a huge hit with their fanbase. It even got Bonk's Mullet thinking.
Check out the hashtag #CannonFest: Jackets fan-organized fan fest that was so big, their GM to showed up as a surprise. Get to work, Ottawa!
— Bonk's Mullet (@BonksMullet) August 18, 2013
Fast forward to May 2014. I wanted to make this a reality. I reached out to several of the Sens blogs to see if they were interested in supporting the event. Every single one said yes. Thus Sens Summer Fan Fest was born. On May 28th with a venue locked down we made the initial announcement of the event. Soon after Guillaume Seguin graciously offered up his graphic design services to design a logo for the event. Leading up to it, the writers of Bonk's Mullet, Amelia from Silver Seven Sens, and the Red Scarf Union were all instrumental in helping organize and promote the event.
We also wanted to raise some money for charity at the event and continue to strengthen our relationship with the Ottawa Senators Foundation. With tickets being sold for $25, we decided 100% of the event's profits would be donated to the foundation. We also decided to host a raffle with all proceeds going to the Ottawa Senators Foundation as well. It was unbelievable how many local organizations and individuals donated to the raffle for an event in its first year. I have to thank every one of them:
- Faces Magazine (@FacesOttawa)
- Blood Black Gold (@BloodBlackGold)
- Play It Again Sports Ottawa (@PIASOttawa)
- The Ottawa Senators (@Senators)
- The Ottawa Senators Foundation (@sensfoundation)
- The Binghamton Senators (@BSens_Hockey)
- The Loft Board Game Lounge (@TheLoftOttawa)
- The Red Scarf Union (@redscarfunion)
- Amelia (@millsvsspqr)
- Mike Cadney (@mikeec67, www.ammcoats.com)
- Erin C (@CptErin2000)
- Dan Moreau (@Franco_Sens77)
- Adnan (@sens_adnan)
- Dew. A (@SensDewie19)
- Mrs. O (@MrsOsSens)
- Jack Leiper (@SensUnofficial)
- Logan Caswell (@Loggycass)
- Mike McCarthry (www.facebook.com/MikeMcCarthySunlife)
August 17th rolled around and Sens Summer Fan Fest was a success from start to finish. When we arrived to set up the event, the staff at MacLaren's on Elgin went beyond what I expected in helping us figure out the layout to setting up the A/V equipment. The service they provided throughout the event was top notch as well. Big thanks to Amanda Smith who took photos throughout the event which could be followed on Twitter with the hashtag #SensSummerFanFest.
The event began by showing two Sens 2013-2014 highlight videos by Veyyd and ThePeskySens Jr. It was followed up with a presentation by David, vice-president of the Red Scarf Union. He introduced their new partnership with the Ottawa Senators and their goal to start a supporters section where the crowd can be as loud as they want. Check out their Facebook group for details!
Once that was finished, people were free to munch on the catered food, mingle with their fellow Sens fans, or play some pool on prepaid tables.
During this time, there was also an ongoing NHL 14 tournament organized by the Red Scarf Union and a trivia session hosted by Luke Peristy!
Once that was all finished, the highlight of the event arrived. A special Sens panel followed by a Q/A session. Ian Mendes, James Gordon, and Todd White were gracious enough to take time out of their day to partake in this part of the event. They were joined by Amelia of Silver Seven Sens and Graeme Nichols of The 6th Sens who moderated the panel. Even better, for those who couldn't attend, Sens Call-ups managed to record the entire thing directly through the audio feed, so the quality is fantastic. You can listen to it here.
The event finished off with the raffle. Steve was kind enough to offer to be the one in charge of selling them during the event. Todd White also took the time to autograph fifty 4x6 photos before he left that we were able to throw in with all the raffle prizes. Plenty of attendees left the event with memorabilia or tickets in hand.
In the end we had approximately 100 people in attendance and raised a cool $1000 for the Ottawa Senators Foundation. This wouldn't have been possible without all the help from all the Sens bloggers, the generous sponsors, the media members that participated in the panel, the staff at MacLaren's on Elgin, and lastly everyone who attended the event not knowing what they were getting into. We're excited to bring back the Sens Summer Fan Fest next year and hope you'll join us again!