The Grande Prairie region will be welcoming the world when the Tour of Alberta comes to visit on September 2 and 3, and its Visitor Information Centre is playing an important role in making this event an incredible one for visitors and the community alike. Under the leadership of Ainsley Lamontagne, Executive Director of the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association, the centre has thrived. Last year the centre won the AMMY award for Best in Class Visitor Facilities and Amenities—for good reasons.
Renovations and landscaping upgrades, along with additional RV parking stalls, touch-screen information kiosks and a new gift shop helped improve visitor experience. The centre also upgraded their BBQ, inviting visitors and community members over on Welcome Wednesdays to enjoy refreshments and locally made desserts. This informal networking opportunity has helped staff reach out to new residents, helping them to get to know about the activities available in the region. Ainsley sees this as a way to increase the quality of life for residents but also creating tourism ambassadors.
For Ainsley, whether it’s a travel counsellor or a resident, there’s nothing like getting info from a person who cares about your experience and can suggest the little gems the region has to offer.
“Having a network of reliable information makes the difference. It’s not enough to have one standalone visitor information centre at an airport. As useful as they are, that’s not going to fulfill an entire trip’s worth of information. So there has to be a network of Visitor Information Centres with people who are talking to each other and saying, ‘there’s a wildfire, there’s a road closure, there’s a new café.’”
This passion for helping people is evident in the centre’s involvement with the Tour of Alberta. The team trial will be racing by the Visitor Information Centre, so they are extending their hours and having it available as a viewing site. The City of Grande Prairie and the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association have been posting regular updates on their Facebook pages, with information about what’s happening at festivals and road closures. Going above the call of duty, they are also helping people learn about the sport of cycling, posting race terminology and images with descriptions of different jerseys.
Stop by the City of Grande Prairie for Stage 1 on Wednesday, September 2, stay overnight and enjoy Stage 2 of the race in the County of Grande Prairie on Thursday, September 3. The festivals will be grand! Here are some highlights.
The Stage 1 Festival at Eastlink Centre goes from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. and includes:
- Live entertainment featuring Tasman Jude and Kristopher Davis
- Ernie’s Sports Experts Burton Riglet Park and BMX Pump Track
- Down to Earth Petting Zoo
- Local food vendors
- Bouncy castles
- Beer gardens
The Stage 2 Festival at Evergreen Park goes from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and includes
- Live entertainment featuring Trin James and Ariana Cote, Kristopher Davis, Curtis Grambo and the Chris McIntyre Band, Range Road Ramblers, Renee Golemba and the Métis Dancers
- Horse-drawn wagon rides
- Face painting and glitter tattoos
- Sports Demos
- Gold Panning
Visit Tour of Alberta for more information relating to the Grande Prairie or any other events across the province. You can also follow @YourAlberta and @511Alberta for information relating to road closures.