If you have taken a tour of Kingston Penitentiary you were likely surprised by the grounds behind those infamous gates. This park-like setting makes it the perfect spot for an outdoor concert and when Rockin’ the Big House takes place at this historic site on September 14, committee members want to ensure that those grounds stay that way.
“We, as a committee, wanted to make sure the grounds were respected,” explained Sue Langlois, one of two volunteers coordinating food and beverage on the Rockin’ the Big House planning committee.
Langlois is a long-time United Way volunteer and for the past 10 years, she has been involved with Fare for Friends (FFF). When she took on the task of food and beverage for Rockin’ the Big House, along with fellow long-time United Way volunteer Korinne Peachey, they focused on making the event not only a success, but sustainable as well.
“We started with approaching local craft breweries to get some ideas of what we could do,” she said. “We knew there would be no glass allowed in the grounds and some bands had also requested no cans.”
“We decided to get stainless steel mugs that could be used for water and any other beverage over the course of the day,” said Langlois. “It can hold a pint of beer, a glass of wine or water. It was a great solution and is embossed with the logo – it looks really great and will also serve as a keepsake for the event.”
Community members attending the concert will also be encouraged to bring their own water bottle and the Utilities Kingston water truck will be on site for refills all day, but the sustainability doesn’t stop there. Langlois and United Way CEO Bhavana Varma also met with Heather Roberts, Director of Solid Waste Services with the City of Kingston, to find out what else they could do at the event.
“They gave us some great tips on how to plan the event in a sustainable way and recommended that we stay away from printing things like programs or flyers and we have certainly adopted that advice. We are hoping people will use our website to find all the info they would need for the day instead,” said Langlois.
OSKAR (Off-site Kingston Area Recycler) will be on site for the day with volunteers helping sort recyclables and waste, and Langlois hopes that the waste will be minimal.
“When we signed on food vendors to the event we made sure to indicate to them that we wanted to have as little waste as possible and avoid single use plastics,” she said. “We were pleasantly surprised how many of them are familiar with those types of products and much of that is because of other festivals and events in the city.”
The Skeleton Park Arts Festival and the Mackinnon Brothers annual music festival were a big inspiration for Langlois and the committee. Mackinnon Brothers festival provides re-usable mugs, and the Skeleton Park Arts Festival encourages people to be waste-free and even bring their own plates and utensils.
The event focused on sourcing locally in terms of beer, wine and food and organizers are encouraging concert goers to use public transit if possible.
Overall, Langlois hopes that the overall carbon footprint of the event can be kept pretty low.
“Everyone still want to comes out and enjoy events like this and they are so important to the community and especially in this case with the great cause of the United Way, but I think it is really important to keep the planet in mind,” she said. “There is a lot we can do to minimize the impact on the environment and I think we should do everything we can. We obviously won’t think of everything, but we’ll try.”
For more information about Rockin’ the Big House visit https://www.unitedwaykfla.ca/rockin-the-big-house/