What can you do to attract families to the racetrack on a winter day? Northlands Park in Alberta held a Family Day where they had activities for the kids, including ice skating, face painting, cookie decorating, and snowshoe races. According to sources, over 400 children and parents attended the races.
Not only did the children get to participate in snowshoe races, but drivers, female and male grooms participated as well. Here is video of one of those races.
So what does this have to do with racing? You have a bunch of children running around the racetrack ground along with parents who probably are not betting very much so what is the point of having such an event? If you take a look at this link you will see how much fun the kids (and parents) had. Sure the snowshoe races were silly, but everyone had a blast. Children were ice skating in the outdoor paddock, playing in the snow, and after the races, they had a chance to run on the track wearing snowshoes. The parents got to watch their children having a blast. You also see child and parent alike watching the races.
Okay, maybe it is not practical to have ice skating at the track. Yes, there is an expense to have snowmaking equipment to make snow if needed. Don't have snowshoes available? Let the horsemen run without them. Let the kids run on the track (a lot of professional sports let children on the field before or after a game), in mini-races. Our racetracks are empty enough that setting up a section of the apron for the kids and their parents should not disrupt the regulars.
Why should we do be doing something like Northlands Park's Family Day? Rest assured these parents and children left Northlands having a positive experience and if any of these people had negative views of the track beforehand, those views disappeared. Some of these parents will have had such a good time that they will be back, without their kids. The kids who got to run on the racetrack may develop a memory they never forget (I still smile about the time my grandfather took me to the circus when I was six years old); Events like this help start the process of developing a future generation of racing fans; something we need to do. The sooner you expose children to the racetrack the better chance you have of developing a new fan.
If nothing else, how bad would it be to have a feel good day? We don't have too many of them.