Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
Best Wishes to All in 2021!

From the Board of Directors & Staff of Brandon First


Looking back at 2020

It’s no surprise that 2020 has been a difficult year for the events industry. Ours was the first industry to close, and will be one of the last to reopen. Under normal circumstances our year end newsletter would feature all the amazing and fun events Brandon hosted, but this year will undoubtedly take a bit different tone.

Before the Covid shut down, our year had been full of travel and meetings, and now we are working to plan for the post-pandemic events world. March to August was full of cancellations and postponements in every area from meetings and conferences to the Manitoba Winter and Summer Fairs, Food Truck Wars, Ag Ex and more. We would like to encourage everyone to take a moment to contribute to the #SaveTheFairs campaign. Organizations like the Provincial Exhibition that put on Brandon’s best events are struggling because of the pandemic, and anything we can do to help them weather this storm and be here to put on events after it’s over will be so important in the coming months. 

On the positive side, our staff reached some exciting milestones this year as Pam Reiss, Regional Sales Coordinator for the Winnipeg region celebrated her first anniversary with the organization in July and Sara Girard, Regional Sales Coordinator for Westman celebrated her first year with us in September. Development Coordinator Jenn Watson, who joined our team in 2015, celebrated her fifth “Brandon-First-iversary” in November. The team has spent this last year really building our cohesion and deepening our bond as colleagues, and all three of us are looking forward to what the next phase of our work with Brandon First will bring. 

In January, Pam joined almost 800 fellow event professionals from Western Canada as they gathered in Edmonton at GO WEST 2020. Over three days, the attendees were treated to presentations by some of the industry’s top leaders, participated in educational and entertaining break-out sessions, learned about the newest things happening in the Canadian events industry during the experiential tradeshow and had lots of opportunities to meet with peers from the Western provinces. In February, Pam attended Crop Connect in Winnipeg. She spent two days with farmers and agricultural professionals from across the province, attending interesting educational sessions, meeting with many attendees on the tradeshow-floor and enjoying excellent keynote speakers.

Sara assisted with the Winnipeg Blue Bomber’s Grey Cup tour stop in Brandon. Seeing so many fans get the chance to see the Grey Cup was a real thrill for our team! Brandon First hosted a business mixer with the Grey Cup in partnership with the Brandon Chamber. We also ran a Grey Cup social media contest which was very well received with lots of excitement from the community. We were very happy to gain over 160 awesome new followers from the contest, and have started #MeetUsMondays online to help teach all those newcomers what it is we do and who we are. We went to Ag Days and made some incredible connections with associations and left with beneficial event leads for the future. In addition, Brandon Curling Club hosted the Provincial Mixed Doubles Championship in February. It was so great to see lots of spectators come out to watch and support the local teams that were playing!

Brandon First has been keeping our fingers on the pulse of the events and tourism industry by attending all available and relevant webinars and virtual conferences locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. We’ve worked to expand our social media reach, using the slowdown due to the pandemic as an opportunity to build our presence and content. Our campaigns have included introduction to our staff, board members and stakeholders, as well as highlighting interesting businesses and locations around Brandon. One of our most popular campaigns has been sharing fun and interesting tidbits about Brandon in our #FunFactFriday.

In September, Brandon First sponsored the first in a new Speaker Series put on by the Brandon Chamber of Commerce; Jenn and Sara had the honour of talking about Brandon’s event history and current hosting landscape and then were able to be in attendance while Chamber President Spencer Day discussed current events with our city’s Mayor, the Honourable Rick Chrest. If you’d like to watch a video of the event you can see it here or watch below!

During the summer, Jenn and Sara visited multiple tourist locations and event venues to both familiarize ourselves with the great spaces this city has to offer, and to take fun photos for our “Where Are We Wednesday” campaign; in this we took close up macro photos of interesting items and had our social media followers guess where we were! We hit every corner of the city, visiting the Green Spot and Crows General Store at the East End Experience, the Riverbank Discovery Centre and Alberts on the North Hill, TBirds at the south end and more! We also did a museum circuit, stopping at the Brandon Museum and General Archives, the Daly House Museum and the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum and a Downtown walking tour! Scroll through the pics below or check out our full photo album here, and plan to visit some of these great stops yourself in the next few months.

Fourth quarter of 2020 has given the team an opportunity to revise our five year event recruitment strategy, and staff has spent most of December determining potential events to recruit, making valuable contacts with provincial, national, and international events right holders and working to play our part in Brandon’s post-pandemic economic recovery by bringing events back to Brandon the moment it’s safe to do so. 

With vaccines and potential event hosting on the horizon for 2021 we at Brandon First are happy to put this year of cancellations behind us, and start building for the future of the event hosting industry in Brandon. 2021 will be a year of change and adaptation as we examine what it means to host events in a new event hosting landscape. Keep your eyes on our social media as we start to roll out our new plan, and start adding great events to the Brandon First calendar for late 2021 and beyond! 

Wishing A Happy Retirement to One of Our Longest Serving Board Members

Charlene (left) at the 2019 Night of Delights

In December of this year, Charlene Harris, General Manager of the Canad Inns Destination Centre Brandon, announced that she would be retiring, and thus also leaving the Brandon First Board of Directors. Charlene joined the board in 2008 and served in many roles including serving on the stakeholder committee and on the executive committee as our Secretary/Treasurer. Charlene will be absolutely missed around the board table and we wish her all the greatest happiness in her retirement.

Stakeholder Corner

Invoices for 2021 Stakeholder Membership Fees will be sent out in January.
 If you have any questions about your membership, or the benefits you are entitled to receive, please feel free to contact us at or 204-729-2156.

Night of Delight v. 2.0 – Stakeholder Appreciation in the time of Covid

For the last two years our stakeholder appreciation evening – Night of Delight – has been a favorite to attend for both our members and staff. Last year we played giant inflatable Wipe Out and other games from Limitless Events at the Dome Building, then hopped on a bus from Brandon Bus Lines and toured the Roadhouse at Canad Inns, had drinks and appies at Benny’s, threw axes at Kickin Axe, had a scavenger hunt with beverages and snacks at the Green Spot and closed the night at T-Birds with fun in the arcade.

The 2019 Night of Delight

This year, for obvious reasons, we aren’t able to host this event in it’s splendor and glory in the same format as last year so we planned to do it a little differently – solo scavenger hunt bingo cards were created to send to each stakeholder business so we could play “Week of Delight” at your own pace and convenience for entries into a draw for a prize pack worth over $200!

Right as we planned to launch, Manitoba’s Covid numbers spiked and many of our participating businesses had to close to in-person business, so we made the difficult decision to postpone into 2021.

Keep an eye on your mailbox/front desk in early 2021 for this exciting, fun, and safer way to participate in the fun activities once the Code Red restrictions are lifted and some of our participating businesses are able to fully reopen. It’s going to be a great way to have a good time and support our local stakeholders! 

Brandon to Host 2021 Softball Nationals

The Softball Canada U14 Girls’ Championship will be held at the Ashley Neufeld Softball Complex in Brandon from August 4-8, 2021. This is the first time since 2000 that Brandon has hosted a Softball Canada Championship, with the 2021 event expected to include 24 teams from across our nation.

The recently commenced “Light the Way” campaign aims to raise funds for lights for the Ashley Neufeld Softball Complex, ensuring our ability to host top quality provincial, regional and national level softball events for years to come. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor of this program, please contact Bruce Luebke by phone at 204-730-2142 or by email here.


We want to see YOUR BEST Brandon Event photos!
Tag us on your social media or or using the hashtag #EventsBdn for your chance to be featured in our publications and on our social media!