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.”