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Deb Dalziel from the Township of Centre Wellington chats with Elora Fergus Podcast (Ep 07)

In this episode, host Ryan Joyce talks with Deb Dalziel from the Township of Centre Wellington.

Deb is the Tourism & Destination Coordinator and she shares important updates for Elora & Fergus pandemic re-opening, what movies and TV shows have been filmed in Centre Wellington, two big wins at Festivals & Events Ontario, and so much more! Listen now!

Here's what we talk about

  • Centre Wellington wins the Municipality of the year (under 50,000) by Festival of Events and Ontario and Deb Dalziel was named to the Festival Events Ontario Hall of Fame! Only 43 since 2000.

  • What’s the best way for local residents to learn about local events?

  • The impacts to Centre Wellington tourism and Deb's expectations for 2020.

  • Big tourism cancellations: Riverfest, 75th Annual Scottish Festival

  • Deb was recently on CTV News talking about the innovative approach to re-open Downtown Elora during the pandemic. She shares more about the downtown opening.

  • Township of Centre Wellington is going virtual

  • There are a ton of movies, tv and productions that film in Elora and Fergus, how does something like that come to be?

  • and much more!

Listen below to Elora Fergus Podcast Episode with Deb Dalziel, Tourism & Destination Coordinator for the Township of Centre Wellington

Audio Transcript with Deb Dalziel, Tourism & Destination Coordinator for the Township of Centre Wellington

Ryan Joyce: Deb you are the Tourism and Destination Coordinator for the Township of Centre Wellington and one of the most iconic images here locally. So imagine for a minute, imagine for a minute, you are stranded on the Tooth of Time, with only one snack and one movie, what would you choose?

Deb Dalziel: Snack would definitely be lays potato chips, regular. Yup. Yeah. Only movie can only be one. Yup. I would probably say funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

Ryan Joyce: Oh, wow. I actually don't even know the reference. So that's, I'm going to go and do a Deb.

Deb Dalziel: Well, we did, we did the Broadway show of it in, um, in high school at Western Collegiate big shout out to WCI. Um, but no, we did do it. It's probably one of my favourite, um, think Mel Brooks style, um, very, uh, very VOD village. Great music. Uh, great scenes. Yes. Called F funny thing happened on the way to the form. It's great on stage and it's, it's a wonderful movie too. Very uplifting. It's going to be

Ryan Joyce: Check that out. Actually. It's a good segue. Might as well jump. Oh, wow. No kidding. Well we're well, this is an interesting take because you're kind of the person responsible for all the, any movies that come into town. You're you got to do all those clearances and things. So like what kind of, what kind of big things have come through? Well,

Deb Dalziel: You know, we've, we have launched, um, you know, we've had a huge amount of movies that have come through way back when I was still in my Fergus market days. If you remember trapped in paradise, um, with, uh, Oh my gosh, Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz and, uh, Nicholas cage came through and did trapped in paradise. And I, I always remember those guys and I remember the transformation of the, um, it was the Russell's department store, the old Russell's clothing store that the hardware store that the guys went to and dropped in paradise. I remember when housing Reeves their, their, um, their tow truck got changed to, I think it was, I want to say Pleasantville, I'm probably wrong. I can't remember the name of the little town, but it took Terri Reeves took forever for him to change the tow truck back again. Cause I think he just liked driving around with pile or wherever it was.

And of course the big, um, shots of them going into the river at the badly bridge in Elora. And of course that was a time where we had the biggest ice jam of the world that took place right at that bridge. So it really impeded them filming as well. Now that film was done way before I was doing what I was doing, but it just, uh, was just a little bit of a tip of the iceberg of how cool, um, and how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful, beautiful community as a Laura and Fergus and to listen to people, come and talk about your community when you're able to kind of eavesdrop on their conversation is still the biggest kick about what I do and, and the drive I have.

Ryan Joyce: I love that. And I would definitely want to hear, uh, I'm going to ask you in a little bit, what do you think one of the biggest secrets of our areas, but I got a couple more, one more movie question, I guess, and then I'll end it here. Who do you think is one of the most famous people that's come this way?

Deb Dalziel: Oh, my best story. Oh, Oh, there's been the huge, huge number of talent, but one of my most favorite favourite stories. And hopefully he's not embarrassed when I asked the, actually this, this guy's never embarrassed. He's such a cool guy. Um, uh, Roget uh, default at the drew house when Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Lopez was in town, who's the Corey, it was supposed to be situated in central park. I think she was supposed to be swimming in some pond in central park. Um, it was, uh, at the quarry and, uh, it was part of angel eyes was the movie. And Jennifer Lopez did a scene in the movie. Well, she had heard through the grapevine, um, and through local about what an amazing chef Roget was at the drew house. So she, she dropped into the drew house and came into the carriage house and, and had asked about dinner or something like that.

Not realizing that there was, there was no dinner service, they served and cater to only, you know, the guests that were staying over. So of course, uh, you know, Roget, he would have no idea who Jennifer was. Jennifer would have no idea who Rochet was and it was like, we don't do dinner. You can just imagine Roget and off he goes again, and then realizing after who he had actually turned dinner down to. So that's fun. My favourite, my personal favourite is my own experience way back when I was 16 and, and this is awful. Okay. So I'm breaking a breaking the silence when I was drinking under age two, Elora the Elora was way too cool to ever ask your age when age a majority, right? Wow. I was at cafe LaFleur. I was sitting out on the sunscreen or the, the, the porch that, uh, LaFleur had that overlooked the water.

I was like all of 16 and sitting over just to the right up against the wall was Vincent Price. Oh, wow. In town filming a movie and he wanted to play chef chess and, uh, LaFleur always had a chess board out and he was looking for some, it was a Sunday evening. And he, I was there with a couple of my friends from Arthur of our tour, of course, sitting down to drink, um, without being asked at the, at the, uh, Lac cafe. And, uh, Vincent Price was looking for a chest partner. Wow. I did chest in grade eight. Science knew very little, but I did have an understanding of the board and I played for an hour and a half with Vincent Price, had my very, very first glass of red wine.

Are you still a red wine drinker now? Oh my goodness. I'm a huge red wine for this. What is your red of choice? Oh, my goodness. Graham and I spent a three and a half weeks last year in Tuscany and, uh, so we're exposed some beautiful, beautiful organic Tuscan wines. Um, so I, my heart goes out to Val pull the Chella region. That was our very first night that we stood. So they'll pull a chelas, um, uh, uh, really good repast sows esoteric with your reds. And then, and then also I do, we do love both of us love mall backs. Um, a really nice strong Shiraz that makes you just pop. Oh, wow. Not, I'm not a, like, I won't say I'm a wine. I'm certainly don't know enough about why I like what I like. And I'm so,

Ryan Joyce: But this is good tips because you do so much in the community, all those people looking to find ways to thank you in some form of a bottle.

Deb Dalziel: The thing was where we stayed in Tuscany, just outside of the city of Sienna. Um, I got the recommendation from Rob Raso, who works at public works and then came home and then shared stories of the same, uh, organic winery and farm that we stayed at. Um, a beautiful Marcez mode, three simile in, in the Sienna foothills. And for people I know it from Centre Wellington we all stayed there all day.

Ryan Joyce: Wow. That's so fun. Actually. I've been in a couple of destinations where people have come up and the names of escaped me now, but they've seen my performance and I'll be at some beach somewhere in the middle and they'll come out to sell it

Deb Dalziel: Very short street. It is, you always want to be nice to everyone because you never know when you're going to run into people all over.

Ryan Joyce: I love that. That's a, that's a great, in fact, there was something else that you said I wanted to read that I thought was really, really, it hit me hard. I thought it was impactful. Cause I resonated with it greatly said I was in golf today last year and said, I learned at a very young age that I never want to watch the parade. I want to be in it.

Deb Dalziel: Oh, thank you. It's so true though. Always. I always wanted to be in the parade. No, I resonate with that completely. Do you have any insight behind that, Ryan? I think that that is our, our personalities. I think it's, um, probably more than, well, you know, dare I use the word creative cause I've got about as much creativity is, you know, you could carry in a bucket. Um, but I think the desire to be a part, um, so love putting on a show. So, uh, love presenting. I always think of Mickey Rooney. Let's put on a show like that was his answer to everything. Like if they were broke, if the boy's club needed money, if they needed a new bridge, if air's family needed money for medical bills, you name it, you Rooney everybody. He was always putting on a show, him and Judy Garland. And I was remember that and, and it was always to be part of the production that theater arts was part of my, my growth growing up. And I think it's wanting to be a part and being a part of that family. And then I think that creative side of presenting, presenting a story, right. It's, it's being able to share that story, but as part of a group.

Ryan Joyce: Yup. And you're certainly sharing that story because this year before this whole like pandemic, there was a huge way. It almost feels like a lifetime ago, but you won something big to not just one, somethings two somethings. Oh my goodness. And that is, you won a municipality of the year for a under 50,000 and you were also one of only 43 people named to the, uh, what was the official title,

Deb Dalziel: Festivals and events, Ontario hall of fame.

Ryan Joyce: There it is. Isn't that something. And that's because you're doing what you just said, you're sharing the story of Centre Wellington so tell us a little bit about that tonight that night.

Deb Dalziel: Oh, well then it was very cool. Um, because well, for two things, I, it, and I got completely scammed by my township CAO and, and um, my senior managers, all the folks that I report to and, and a lot of my colleagues because, um, we had a team of us had worked very hard on the application for, um, uh, the municipality of the year, uh, 50,000 and under it. And that was with respect to the amount of work and efforts and partnership that goes into a community in presenting festivals and events. So it's not just a case of being a community that hosts huge events, which of course we do. We have so many signature events, the Elora festival Fergus Scottish festival on Highland games, the Fergus fall fair and event like that, that has 180 years plus in being in being presented with, within this community, it was not only the roster of festivals and events.

It was the work and the behind the scenes that goes in to making us a true festival and event destination. So those festivals, those festivals and events in themselves are signature premier provincial and some nationally, um, renowned events. But along with that is the work that goes in the volunteer base, which comes from our community. It's the support of our public works department who put up the no parking who put up the road barricades to close the streets for those festivals and events. It's our business area who choose to engage and embrace all of these festivals and events that are taking place. It's our own township, um, corporation and how they are able to work magic in the protocol to allow these festivals and events, to be able to, uh, to be able to, to be nurtured and to grow. And many municipalities might say, Oh yeah, you can go and do that.

But that's, as far as it goes, I would say that our public works community services, the staff at our parks, um, the mindset in our cultural, um, fiber of, of what we have here in Centre, Wellington all support and foster the growth of those festivals and events. So it was very, very cool honor. It's such an artistic, uh, embracing a community. Every it's just such an incredibly creative, um, culture here, both in Elora. And Fergus when you think that, um, well think of, I think of our artistic community, look at the studio tour that boasts over 40, um, 40 different locations of, of people celebrating their art medium, right. Within, you know, the of Centre Wellington yeah. We're, we're pretty lucky, but look at our backdrop. There's why all these creative people ended up living here. And that was just because of the spectacular, uh, fiber and, and backdrop that we have of the grand river.

It's a magnet, it's a magnet. I'm telling you the truth at time as a magnet. Yeah, absolutely. We're obviously in uncharted territories now, and your industry specifically tourism while everything is, everything is, but you can't take anything personal as this pandemic and this, um, this awful COVID crisis that we're all in it, you can't take it personal cause it's everywhere. It's world. And this hit us. We've gotten lots of cancellations, of course, and a couple of biggies, a couple of really real big ones. Uh, well, you know, big and small. Uh, so when you hear of something like an agricultural fair, that is celebrating, you know, I think this year would have been, Oh, I can hear Susan here up already correcting me a hundred, I think 183 or 184 years. Wow. Uh, of, of celebrating agriculture in our community to look at the grand river Raceway to see that huge Equon industry and, um, agricultural hub, uh, come to a close. So excited that as of just this password and STI, they have been able to, uh, re-introduce our standard bred racing, um, albeit, uh, simulcast and, and, um, you know, distributed via satellite, but still having an opportunity of seeing that industry be able to come back. It's, it's, it's a step in the right direction. Great plug last week's

Ryan Joyce: Episode with Katie giddy, where she chats about the opening of the grand river Raceway and all the things you might expect.

Deb Dalziel: It's so true. And they're so important to us. Fergus Scottish festival and other ones celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. Um, part of that, um, that that team that's helping present, um, the 75th and just having to kind of take a back seat to this whole pandemic, but it's the right thing to do it at this particular time. And we're trying to come up with ways that we can continue to remind the public that we're here and looking forward to seeing everybody next.

Ryan Joyce: That's super. And let's talk about some of those ways, like what are some of the most important pieces of information you think the community should know, need to know?

Deb Dalziel: The township has done a great job for those residents, living local, um, Kendra Martin, Shannon Hawk, um, under the direction of both mayor and our CEO, um, have done an amazing job with the creation of connect CW and Centre Wellington, um, Centre, Wellington connects is a great place for you to go, to be able to there's a lot of great online information. It is going to give you pertinent information to what's happening within the residency. Um, with, you know, the residency of Centre Wellington, it's got great activities for kids. It's got up to date information with regards to all of our programming. We need to remember Ryan that we are, we're staying the course as we are supposed to, and we'd all love to be right back to normal and be throwing, you know, opening the doors to summer camp next week, but we're not able to do that.

So I think all of our festivals and events and all of our community organizations are doing a really good job of trying to reinvent themselves virtually. I know I've been part, one of the things that I love to do is I'm a part of the Elora community theater. We've been, we've taken our productions that we would be doing at the Fergus grand theater and doing virtual productions and virtual readings. Um, and, uh, that's one way that our cast keeps connected. Um, our, we keep connected with our membership. The township is doing the same thing with Centre Wellington connects. I think the, the, um, I think all of us are trying to find new ways to be, to make sure that we continue to stay engaged. The Elora Fergus arts council has made, um, a great attempt at assisting the arts and culture organizations, um, by offering a beautiful program, that's called a bridge, I believe it's called bridge gate and it it's helping cultural groups be able to still continue to meet, uh, you know, exercise, social distancing, um, and be able to continue on that.

That's been a huge help to us. I know what the, the Elora community theater, our business core incredibly decimated with what has taken place very, very important that our, um, our, both our BIS both the Elora and Fergus business improvement areas, as well as Pat rudder, our economic development officer, and a variety of great programs that have been, have been offered to us through the County of Wellington digital main street. Um, a lot of programs that have been made available to assist the retailers in getting themselves an online presence, getting themselves registered with a Google three 60 presence and getting a foot Mart, a foot Mark of their businesses up online, uh, our shop local Centre shop local is been a great loyalty program, um, that, um, I think there's over 75 businesses in both Elora and Fergus that have come in and, and registered and have become involved.

Uh, our residents have really wanted to support local. I think that that probably is one of the silver lining, um, attributes that I have discovered through all of this, is that okay. We have an incredible community that is probably never, ever thought as much as they have the last few months of working, thinking and shopping local. So the support that they have offered to those businesses and the future support in that shop loyalty program have been, has been amazing and is, has kept the wolves away from the door for so many businesses. Now, as we start to reimagine and restart our downtown communities, uh, there's been some really innovative ways to think about how do we engage and respect social distancing, uh, create and provide a safe environment for everyone visitors as well as our residents alike. So the idea of the trailblazing concept of closing to pedestrian traffic, our downtown core, and Elora, that's starting to take place on Saturday and Sunday, uh, allowing those businesses, the real estate of being able to put wares out on display.

Hopefully when restaurants open up again, be able to have those patio is out front, that they've always dreamed of being able to walk up the middle of the street with an ice cream cone and not have to worry about cars, et having the County, the township, the BIS, the businesses, as well as residents working to support such initiatives. Um, it just is another Testament to the creativity and the open-mindedness that we see within our, the culture of Centre Wellington and the best places connect people can go. And that is a direct link, as well as, you know, take advantage of, um, take advantage of the virtual town halls. Uh, you know, we are blessed with this amazing, you know, local radio station, as well as Wellington average, like our media outlets have been more supportive than ever, and making sure that they are part of the hub of the communication out.

Um, as well as, you know, the various social media, Facebook, Instagram, all of those social, social media challenges, but Ryan, we still have, we still have that collective audience, um, that really still, you know, they, they, they, um, resign them. Like they, they depend, it depend on the radio. They depend on some of the old fashioned media outlets. Um, so I really respect the amount of work and the cost. It costs for our local newspapers and our radio stations to operate. And that they're still managing to provide huge opportunities, that the information that they do share all of our media outlets, like, you know, it I've really been very Centre, Wellington proud through the last couple months and yeah, that, that's all part of that silver lining in and amongst all of this, I've been calling it COVID karaoke. That's been Mike, Oh boy, that's a good way to karaoke fan.

Like I know there's lots of people out there that love karaoke, and that would be one of the last things that I would do well, then, then I will, the karaoke, I will end with one final question. And especially with that lead in, what would be, if you absolutely had to, what is your karaoke song, karaoke that I've actually, honestly, to this day have never, ever done. I did one group karaoke and I think it was a bunch OVI song. What would I do? Oh, it might've been the proclaimers. Cause that's yours, your phone ring. I, I that's, that's my dance jam. Oh, that's dance to, I don't care where I do that whenever I hear it. That is my dance jam. I love that. So you've got that. You didn't even ask for it. My go to, and the person that does it best right here in our community is Jennifer Dixon. And it's feel like a woman and Glenn, and I heard Jennifer Dixon sing it. You remember the Highlander a million years ago. Okay. So the Highlander and million years ago, Scarlet days, I know. Yeah. So, and Amanda Murray was there and Jennifer Dickson saying, feel like a woman and it was the best. So that would be if I ever did, that's what I would want to do.

Ryan Joyce: Well, I won't make you end on a note! Thank you so much Deb, for your time here today.

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