Festivals can be planned as a one-time event or to be an annual
affair. They can last anywhere from one to four days, just during
the daytime or extend into the evening with special music or entertainment.
Since the purpose is to raise awareness about a resource, the best
location to hold the event is outdoors near the resource. For instance,
a river festival should be held on the banks of a river corridor
so that people can see it and perhaps even touch the water. There
may also need to be a stage and grassy seating areas depending upon
the type of programs planned. Because a festival should reach all
sectors of the community, activities should have broad appeal. Individual
activities can be targeted for children or adults, but the overall
attraction should be something all community members will all enjoy.
If the festival is to run over several days, availability of camping
sites or lodging needs to be considered. When planning a festival,
keep in mind the following:
- Start planning
at least a year in advance of the event.
- Have a specific
purpose and make sure activities all relate to and support it.
- Expect large
crowds: a first-year festival could draw over 1,000 people, depending
upon the area. Each year the numbers will grow; so develop a long-term
plan for the future of the festival and suitability of the chosen
- Get maximum
1. Form an organizing committee
will develop goals and themes for the festival. They will also head
all of the subcommittees. It is key that this committee stay organized,
with clearly defined roles and responsibilities from the chairperson
to be estimated for such things as printing for invitations and
banners, equipment rentals (e.g., stage, audio equipment, tables),
travel expenses for performers, purchase of merchandise that will
be sold (e.g., balloons, event mementos) and other expenses. Be
sure the committee chairs know their budget and stay within it.
Always include a contingency fund for unexpected bills and keep
detailed records for following years. Some local businesses may
be interested in donating products or their services. Performers
may also offer their help in exchange for travel costs and publicity.
Each sponsor should be recognized on flyers and banners and publicly
thanked the day of the festival.
3. Set a
schedule conflicts including holidays, school calendars or other
local events. Also factor in the weather and time of year. Consider
linking to any national efforts such as National Trails Day or National
Rivers Day to help with promotions. Once the date is set, announce
it, even before invitations or flyers are ready.
Develop a detailed
timeline working backwards from the festival day. Post tasks with
responsible personís name for easy reference. Here are some of the
- For first-year
festivals, research other area festivals and contact their planning
committees to see what can be learned from their experiences.
If this is the second, or greater, year, review notes from the
your volunteer needs. Recruit volunteers from the community and
other organizations. Be sure to include an appeal for volunteers
in press releases.
- Recruit performers,
speakers and vendors with as much notice as possible. If need
be, find out the names of entertainers who have performed at other
similar festivals in your area. Give speakers a time limit and
possible outline; you want speeches short and to the point.
creative ideas and interactive activities that support your mission
and create a schedule of events. Recruit leaders for the activities
providing them with a simple contract to confirm their role. Prior
to the event, gather all of the leaders together to go over the
- Decide a
course of action for inclement weather: Will the festival be held
rain or shine? Should you rent tents?
- Contact emergency
services to be available during the festival.
- Secure any
how attendees will be invited: either develop a mailing list of
names or plan for advertising in papers and through posting flyers
- Be creative!
well in advance
a strong proactive publicity plan that includes flyers, posters,
banners, radio, TV, newspaper, magazine and Internet promotions.
- Use free
opportunities as much as possible, but donít overlook the value
of business sponsorship to help finance paid advertising.
- Keep in mind
that many publications have a long lead time between deadline
- Name a single
spokesperson to be available to the media for interviews.
6. The Big
is to keep an overall positive attitude and good sense of humor
to smooth whatever bumps you encounter.
- Allow ample
time for set-up.
- Take good
care of VIPs, musicians and volunteers.
people to take photographs. Consider providing a disposable camera
for several volunteers. Also use video.
- Track any
concrete success indicators such as number of attendees, dollars
- Have fun!
- Clean up
the site and store, or return, equipment.
- Pay bills
and prepare complete financial report.
- Write a press
release about the success of the event.
- Thank every
volunteer, performer, speaker, vendor and contributor with a written
- Hold a debriefing
meeting with organizers to make a list of lessons learned.
your success with a party for everyone who made the festival possible.
- Take a week
off then name a planning committee to start on next yearís event.