- Our Town
Bowen - an easily accessible green getaway
It was a whirlwind of a weekend for Maria Steernberg, manager of the Bowen Island Chamber of Commerce, who spent two days at the Vancouver Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show, together with what she calls a fabulous group of volunteers, all keen to talk up day trips and extended stays on Bowen Island.
"It was very exciting, I would put the attendance to around 43,000 for the two days," Steernberg says, adding that the Bowen team, decked out in period finery designed by Shirley Wrinch, drew a lot of compliments. "[Show manager] Russ Koehler came up to us and said we had the most colourful booth. He thanked us profusely for coming," Steernberg said, "We were a hit."
Steernberg said that while everyone else was dressed elegantly, she wore a '20s swimming outfit. "I looked goofy," she laughed. "But I thought the outfit suited the theme." Steernberg explained that one of the aspects the Bowen team set out to promote was Bowen's heritage. "When you arrive in the village of Snug Cove, you can step back in time. That is the reason we were wearing these costumes," she said, adding that people were interested to hear about the heritage cottages, the two museums and Steamship Days.
In addition to Steamship Days, the team promoted Applefest, Bowfest, Dog Days and the Round Bowen sailboat and kayak races. One of the team members promoting Steamship Days with zest was Murray Atherton, who came to man the booth on both days. "I heard him promising people again and again that he would personally greet them when they came off the ferry for Steamship Days," Steernberg recalls. "He is going to be very busy during those days." Steernberg says that Atherton had all the answers and promoted island attractions with such enthusiasm that the team decided to call him the ambassador for Bowen Island. Other volunteers helping out on the weekend were Pernille Nielsen, Barb Wiltshire, Wendy Roberts, Bruce Russell, Theresa Anderson, Kathy Clarke, Martin Clarke and Alan Mills. Steernberg expressed her appreciation for their efforts and energy. "We sometimes had six people deep waiting to talk to us," she said, explaining that it was helpful to have anywhere from three to five people at hand to answer questions. "The main concerns were trails, kayaking, beaches, dining, arts and crafts and where to stay. Golfing was also a hit. We promoted Bowen Island as a green getaway."
"We told visitors that the island is people friendly and doggy friendly," Steernberg said. "We also had a lot of interest about [English Bay Launch]. People were excited to hear that there are connections out of Granville Island and Coal Harbour." Steernberg believes that both the water taxi and the ferry rides are seen as added attractions. "Being on the water and looking up Howe Sound is so spectacular," she said. "And a lot of people saw it as a big positive that Bowen is so close [to Vancouver] and so accessible."
But even though many people knew where Bowen Island is located, many weren't aware of the breadth of its offerings, according to Steernberg. "A lot of people don't know that there is so much to see and do. We have two museums, theatre productions and galleries." One of the most popular hand-outs was the Bowen Island map produced by the Chamber of Commerce. "We gave out around 5,000 maps," Steernberg said. "We also handed out Chamber members' cards and brochures and told people to check our website (www.bowenchamber.com)."
Another focus of attention was the big screen that was set up by volunteer Alex Torok, showing a loop of two videos. "One of them was the Wonders of Bowen Island, the other was Come on Over," Steernberg explained, adding that the beautiful imagery of the island provided a great backdrop for the team's verbal presentations. The Wonders of Bowen Island is a 30 minute video produced by Dana Torok (see promo at reels.creativecow.net/film/3242), Bowen Island - Come on Over is a 1 1/2 minute Bowen TV production by George Zawadzki (www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hdnjYUMp1Y).
The demographics of the crowd ranged from old to young. And most of the 250 booths promoted B.C. attractions, according to Steernberg, who also made a point of connecting with other presenters.