That’s a wrap for NHL Fan Fair

After more than 40 National Hockey League players dropped by, along with tens of thousands of visitors, the NHL Fan Fair hockey extravaganza officially came to a close Saturday at the Ottawa Convention Centre.

The final day of the Fan Fair attracted the biggest crowd the event had seen over the past three days. Tickets were sold out by mid-afternoon on Saturday, and organizers were forced to turn away dozens of eager fans who waited in line outside along the Rideau Canal in hopes of getting in.

The Ottawa edition of Fan Fair has been a crowded event right from its opening day on Thursday. The day before the hockey festival had officially kicked off, it had already sold 40 per cent more presale tickets than last year’s event in Raleigh, North Carolina.

But for the hockey fans who did manage to get into the Fan Fair, it was an experience they’ll never forget.

“There are NHL players everywhere,” said 15-year-old Patrick Carriere, who met New York Rangers forward Dan Girardi and Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry at the Fan Fair on Saturday.

The Fan Fair was the city’s go-to spot if fans were hoping to bump into an NHLer. Former players, including the legendary Gordie Howe and Jeremy Roenick, made appearances, as well as all of the Ottawa Senators’ all-star participants.

“There is so much to do here,” said 21-year-old Sara Hickman. “I got to get a glimpse of Roenick, then try on some of the players’ equipment, and even play some hockey. It was such a fun day.”

In addition to the many autograph sessions and public interviews with former and current players, there were also more than 30 interactive exhibits fans could participate in, including high-tech attractions which measured participants’ hockey skills.

Most of the events came with a line-up. At one point on Saturday, the wait to take a picture with the Stanley Cup was an hour long. But for diehard fans standing in line to see the legendary trophy or to get an autograph from one of the league’s top players, it was worth the wait.

Viola Lalonde and her husband had tried to leave Fan Fair early on Saturday – but were quickly back and stayed several more hours.

“There was so much we still needed to see and do,” said Lalonde.

“It has been an exciting place to be at, especially if you’re a huge hockey fan,” said Ruth Leard, an Ottawa Senators ticket holder. For Leard, the highlight of the Fan Fair was being in the audience during an interview with former Ottawa Senators player Tom Chorske.

Since she won’t be going to Scotiabank Place to check out the All-Star skills competition on Saturday or the game on Sunday, going to the Fan Fair was the best way for her to get a taste of everything All-Star.

“It’s a great event for fans,” she said. “Being here, you’re still able to get the All-Star game experience.”

3 Responses to “That’s a wrap for NHL Fan Fair”

  1. Nancy
    January 29, 2012 at 12:07 am #

    I know I am supposed to be nice, but I cannot. This was a horribly organized event. The line-up to get in was insane on Saturday. Filtering all the people through a single door? Really? I do not know if it was the NHL organizers or the Convention Centre, but we were not impressed. Perhaps it was simply that they oversold the event — which is likely, as it was clearly a cash grab — with all the vendors. Because the line-ups were over an hour long for pretty much anything, we did not see the Stanley Cup and my child did not get a chance to shoot at any of the shooting venues. I have to point out the worst one of all: they had an NHL player “hidden”behind a curtain. If you wanted to see him (and get his autograph), you had to first buy a pack of hockey cards. Seriously? Fine if buying the cards is the price for getting an autograph, but depriving all the kids of even SEEING the secret player was, in my view, unforgiveable. In sum, we were not impressed.

    • Nancy
      January 31, 2012 at 2:32 am #

      “Well mapped out”? My husband and I have 5 university degrees between us and we could not even read the “map” to the event. Carson and I were obviously at 2 different events. Or perhaps he was on a VIP pass. Or, perhaps he worked for the organizers/sponsors. Everyone I spoke to had a similar experience to ours. We met several friends and acquaintances in the Rideau Centre after we left who did not even bother trying to get in when faced with the line up. This was just the experience of about 2 dozen of us. But Carson obviously thought it was great — and implies that I am a lying cheapskate.

  2. Carson
    January 29, 2012 at 1:51 am #

    Actually I don’t agree with the above poster. We arrived at the Fan Fair and were initially told the building was at capacity. Not ready to give up, we crossed the street and took pictures of the jerseys frozen in ice. We returned after 15 minutes and asked a volunteer if it would be possible to still enter the Fan Fair. We got the green light as the organizers had stepped in and allowed more people to enter as soon as a large group of people came out. This is all about safety for everyone there. We NEVER waited longer than 10 minutes. Not to buy tickets, not to get up stairs, not to get service, not in the store, not at the vendors, never. It was a beautifully set up event. It was spacious and well mapped out. Of course this event is about making money. The countless volunteers did an amazing job and were extremely friendly and helpful. After that we walked to the frozen logo sculptures. The NHL is a business, and organizing an event of this magnitude costs a lot of money to organize. If you want to enjoy lower priced hockey events then there is the OHL or the QMHJL just around the corner.

    It was an amazing experience!

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