On the heels of a successful inaugural Eclipse Walk With Light at Muskoka Heritage Place, council has agreed to enter into a partnership agreement with the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce for the return of the event in 2022-2023.
Light installations are planned at Muskoka Heritage Place (MHP), Kent Park, the front of Town Hall, and a new interactive installation is planned at the King Street walkway. Organizers are also looking at the possibility of lights at the skating rink at Lions Lookout.
MHP manager Jillian Jordan told council at the July 27 general committee meeting that the inaugural event, held from November 4, 2021 to April 2, 2022 brought 34,600 visitors to MHP. She said 34.3 per cent of the visitors were Huntsville residents and 11.4 per cent were Muskoka residents (outside of Huntsville) and 54.3 per cent were from outside of Muskoka.
“So this provided an opportunity to increase awareness of Muskoka Heritage Place and maximize the use of the site when it otherwise would be dormant in the off season. It brought new and local visitors and new audiences to Muskoka Heritage Place,” she told councillors.
A discounted $34,310 in rental rates were requested to be waived along with $6,500 in operational costs that would be payable by the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce.
The event also receives funds from the province and the Municipal Accommodation Tax. Organizers are hoping to develop a sustainable model for the future to keep the event going. “We want to grow it so we’ll be looking at sponsorship opportunities, potentially vendors and other opportunities for maybe large-scale events—if you want to get married at Eclipse, if you want to have a party, that kind of thing,” according to Chamber executive director Kelly Haywood.
Organizers are expected to return to council in September with more information.
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