March 7 – Barrie ON – The Government of Ontario announced today an investment of $20 million in the “Celebrate Ontario” program to support 320 festivals and events across the province. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Daiene Vernile made the announcement, including that Kempenfest in Barrie was receiving a $60,000 grant to support this year’s event. “Festivals and events help grow our economy and make the Ontario tourism industry more competitive. They bring communities together and offer Ontario residents and tourists another reason to explore our wonderful province. Every year, festivals and events support tens of thousands of jobs in Ontario while our tourism industry as a whole supports 330,000 jobs. By strengthening our festivals and events and supporting them to enhance their programming, we enhance visitor experiences, increase attendance and support job creation. Kempenfest Marketing Director Tom Aikins explains what the grant is for. “We applied for three projects — now that we have the full waterfront parks available to us again, we are re-introducing our Centennial Beach Stage and beer gardens. We will be programming local groups and bands during the day, and Indie Rock music at night. Secondly, we will be enhancing our kids village by bringing in more arts and crafts activities for kids, a giant Kempenfest mural that kids can help us paint, plus kids entertainers. Finally, we are “greening” the event by purchasing watering stations where visitors can refill water bottles for free. It’s a great legacy project as well since we will retain ownership of the watering stations and will be making them available to other festivals and events in Barrie and Simcoe County in future years.” The watering stations are expected to eliminate 100,000 water bottles from landfill and recycling in the next five years.