Head to the #VermilionOnline Festival to connect with people and the town’s businesses


By Linda Hoang

We’ve seen a lot of changes since the pandemic hit. Changes to how we work, how we play, how we support local businesses and even how we “travel.” Virtual experiences are on the rise and that includes some pretty innovative experiences right here in Alberta. 

The Town of Vermilion, in partnership with ZenSeekers, has launched the first-ever #VermilionOnline. It’s a virtual festival showcasing experiences and businesses in the charming rural town of Vermilion, located just two hours east of Edmonton in central Alberta.

#VermilionOnline is an innovative way to experience, celebrate, and support the local businesses and attractions in the town from the safety of your home, by tuning in and engaging with live videos and social media posts from different Vermilion organizations throughout the day. 

The first-ever event took place on Wednesday, April 22 and another iteration will return Wednesday, April 29, and every Wednesday in May.

It was fun seeing what fashion styles are in right now by local experts (not just for spring but for quarantine “looks”) too. It was also neat to learn that local realtors are offering virtual walk-throughs to friends and family who may want to “join” you on your house hunt! And I felt like I could smell what the BBQ Hubkins Restaurant was cooking up through my computer screen! 

Meet the owners of Hubkins Restaurant (and for those socially-distant visiting in person the day of the festival, they were offering free food!)

Paige Jaremco, owner of MACK Modern Age Clothing for Kids, one of the participating businesses, said #VermilionOnline was the first time she’d ever done a live social media video. Not only was the festival video well-received, but it also brought in business for her during a challenging time. 

“I loved it,” Jaremco said. “The video has been viewed over 3,000 times in 24 hours and I've made over 20 sales! This has truly helped get the word out and I am so thankful for the opportunity."

Check out more videos from the first-ever #VermilionOnline on April 22:

Check out some spring styles from Uniquely U Styles:

Virtually browse the selection at Harbrook and Paisley:

Get some inspiration for ‘quarantine looks’ from Fresh Apparel:

Shop styles for the kids in your life from MACK Modern Age Clothing for Kids:

Get a virtual tour of a Vermilion house for sale and get a market update from RE/MAX Prairie Realty:

Go behind-the-scenes and learn how spirits are made at Vermilion’s Copper Cork Distillery

Copper Cork Distillery also shared this recipe for a drink to make at home, perfect for these upcoming hotter days.

The “Vermillionaire”
by Copper Cork Distillery

To a glass with ice, add: 

  • An ounce and a half of Prairie Proud Blind Pig Raspberry Moonshine
  • A few ounces of ginger beer with pear
  • Some club soda (for extra fizziness)
  • Plus a splash of apple juice

Give it a stir then head to the deck and enjoy the sunshine!

If you’re interested, a couple of the businesses featured in the April 22 online festival are offering discounts for if you shop at their stores online:

  • MACK Modern Age Clothing for Kids: Receive 15% off your online order by using promo code ZEN15

  • Fresh Apparel: 30% off Men's Items until end of Sunday, April 26 plus be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate for every purchase of $50 or higher. 

#VermilionOnline Fesival businesses covid 19
Photo: Linda Hoang

I believe that this type of online festival / local business and experience showcase is a wonderful way for tourism and travel-related industries to try and keep the spotlight on what their local region has to offer — safely from your home.

Obviously it’s not the same as *being there* but it’s a really nice pivot.

I am thrilled to see the Town of Vermilion and ZenSeekers do this, and I hope to see more “festivals” and live / virtual tourism “events” like this moving forward.

#VermilionOnline Festival Covid 19 businesses

It’s something Brina Kiziak, the Town of Vermilion’s social media reporter, said Albertans should expect to see replicated across the province. 

“I do think we will see other tourism boards or regions following suit, hosting their own version of the #VermilionOnline Festival,” Kiziak said. “It’s a positive, interactive and exciting way to highlight the great things happening in a community. We saw a high level of interest, participation and have had a steady stream of really positive feedback from both the entrepreneurs and community.” 

Online festivals like this really show that this “new normal” doesn’t mean we can’t “travel” and explore Alberta. It just means that travel and experience will look a bit different. 

Stay tuned with ZenSeekers for a few more of these experiences, including a final #VermilionOnline Festival happening on Wednesday, May 13!

Tune in for more live stream showcases of different businesses and experiences throughout the day on Facebook. The Town of Vermilion is working on weaving in artists and other live performances in addition to business features as part of the second day of the festival. There will likely be more online discounts and support local incentives too.

Linda Hoang is a ZenSeekers' correspondent. Find her travel guides at www.linda-hoang.com, and follow her @lindork on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

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