2012 Update Week: Fall Festival

KidZone - fall festival 2012Since most of my summer and fall focused on coordinating the KidZone at our Fall Festival, I felt it time to give you an update of the event.

Though KidZone itself ran smoothly, the process was not without incident. In using time wisely for a successful event, I planned, executed, and adjusted.

Planning the Fall Festival

Having coordinated for two years now, I used my prior year’s information and started with the framework, filled in the space, and chose reliable volunteers.

The Framework

Upon contacting the vendors and deciding on the number of spaces needed for the event, I rearranged the areas considering noise, electrical connections, and curb appeal. With bounce houses and generators, we are talking about a lot of noise. In consideration of our vendors, I worked to fit them in without overpowering them with constant sounds.

Without power on the field, some of the vendors and performers needed electricity. Keeping those areas near a generator limited the amount of cords scattered throughout the event.

The curb appeal focused on attracting the attention of drivers, who may see our event and stop by. This year, I had a giant slide, bounce house, pony rides, and hayride visible from the main road. Though I am not sure how many saw these attractions, we had around 1700 attendees at our event.

Filling the Spaces

Assigning spaces and discovering what each vendor needed, I put together a master supply list, including items from tape to generators. Anything I might have needed was added to the list.

I also worked with our live performers regarding the schedule and addressing their concerns. This year, we had 2 stage areas: main stage in the center and preschool stage to the side. Both areas were very well attended.

Kidzone fall festival 2012

Staffing the Event

Though the process for volunteers changed this year, I ended up with the best combination available. I am very protective of my workers, and they do not disappoint. I appreciated their promptness, energy, and time. My setup help saved the day as I needed assistance throughout the event, and they came to the rescue.

Executing the Fall Festival

Setup went lickety-split this year. The crew of volunteers came ready to work, and we finished our preparations early. The first-shift helpers worked hard until the transition.

When the second-shift volunteers arrived, they jumped right in. We had fewer workers, but all areas were covered. The issues from the first shift were resolved, and second shift ran more smoothly through the end of the event.

fall festival 2012

Clean up was a breeze. I kept all the KidZone items out on the field. We sorted and returned items without any confusion between zones. It was great! I missed my son’s soccer game, but I was not exhausted and utterly worn out this year.

Having a setup schedule, event schedule, and clean up schedule solved most of the issues that occurred last year. Thankfully, I learned from my mistakes, and this year was a grand success netting our school over $12,000.

Adjusting at the Fall Festival

The new issues that arose this year included a falling bounce house. A fuse blew in one of our borrowed generators. Thankfully, a setup helper came to the rescue. He immediately detected the issue, and he rerouted the power. We tried to get power from another generator, but it blew a fuse as well before realizing that the blower to the bounce house was the problem.

After a quick call, the bounce house owner brought a replacement blower, but our generators were not operating at full power. We ended up taking down a donated basketball/soccer combo unit which worked out just fine.

Another small bump in the road was the late arrival of the majority of our second-shift volunteers. The first-shirt workers stayed though some were inconvenienced.  I appreciated all their help, and let them go as soon as I could.

With these small adjustments, the day went just as planned. It was a great day. My parents came to help, and I could not have survived without them. They walked around with my kids enjoying all the stations. I took a break and went with them on the hayride which was my favorite part of the day.

Kidzone fall festival 2012

In using time wisely to organize our Fall Festival, I planned, executed, and then adjusted. Working from the successes last year, I laid the foundation, tweaked the format, and enjoyed raising money for our school through the KidZone. Happy relaxing!

Question: What type of events did you plan in 2012? 

Event Promotion: A Personal Invitation

Personal invitations

Photograph Credit: iStockphoto

I am getting consumed with Fall Festival preparations. Keeping separate times to work and to put it away, I feel more balanced this year. Having spent so much time last year designing the space, I only need to tweak the plans, which saves me energy and time.

Our marketing volunteers have created banners, posters, flyers, postcards, and business cards to promote our Fall Festival. Keeping these invitations in my purse, I am learning the power of a personal invitation.

When I shopped at a craft store today, I extended to our cashier an invitation to our Fall Festival. After chatting about the event, I left a postcard with her listing the location, date, and time. Our cashier seemed truly thankful for the information and the details.

Though I know not whether she will come, I know that she has the information to attend. I cannot tell you how many times someone has informed me of an event when I am on the run. When I get to a place to write it down, I cannot remember the location, date, or time. Had I been given an invitation or flyer, then I would have the information to add to my calendar.

In using time wisely to promote an event, remember a personal invitation spoken will go further with a written flyer, postcard, or business card. Knowing this gesture saves me time and energy, I seek to help others as I invite them to our upcoming event. Happy inviting!

Question: Do you find personal invitations helpful for community events?

Fall Festival: Recap Meeting

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Caston Corporate)

Before planning the events of 2012, I want to take a few posts to complete the events from 2011. In revealing my upcoming events in 2011-2012 post, I highlighted three events. Having completed the fall festival, I promised more information on how to better plan for next year, then came Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Top 10 List.

In getting back on track, I will share what I learned about fall festival and how I plan to improve next year.

Successes

Barriers: Enclosing the space kept all the students and children safe and within boundaries. Separating the open play area and the ponies designated a natural entrance to the pony rides within the KidZone. This arrangement worked so well.

Bounce Houses: Increased number from 2 to 5 this year. The lines were manageable and moved quickly. Having totes for shoes, outdoor mats, and canopies at each entrance kept the area clear, clean, and shaded.

Police Officer: Keeping watch over the entrances and wooded area around the KidZone, the police officer oversaw the safety of our event. Having him available during money exchanges and changing of the volunteers was extremely helpful in keeping our event safe.

Stage Performances: With performances beginning every half hour, the KidZone stayed alive during the full event. Having the hay bales for seating gave the stage an automatic audience. The placement worked well in the center of the area, and the juggling and karate demonstrations were well-received.

Volunteers: This event would not be possible without the many volunteers. In KidZone alone, I worked with over 50 volunteers throughout the day. Asking community organizations to help with our event allowed our staff and parents to oversee the details.

The event was definitely a success without any major problems. However, there are always those unexpected items to improve next year.

Improvements

Audio: Add speakers and microphone to area for announcements and stage area. We had no way to get information to those in the KidZone. For safety, we need to have audio for next year.

Advertising: KidZone flyers distributed at the entrances than ignored at the KidZone registration table.

A source of frustration: I spent a good 2-3 hours designing a half-sheet flyer with a map and details about the Kidzone. Volunteers were scheduled to distribute these flyers at the KidZone entrance.

When a few volunteers failed to arrive, I adjusted responsibilities. Unfortunately, the flyer distribution suffered, and I found the stack of flyers in a box after the event. Though it was a source of frustration, I have the template for next year. (Looking on the bright side. :-))

Giant Slide: Need a more advanced slide next year. The younger children had lots of activities while the older students missed the giant slide. There was miscommunication with the contract. The e-mail indicated the large slide would be delivered, but we received a small one. Next year, I will be more proactive with the bounce house contracts and contacts.

Cleanup: The most frustrating part of the event was cleanup. The new crew came in with gusto. In an effort to help, they cleared everything out, stacked remaining items in storage, and left.

I ended up coming back on Monday morning to sort through all the KidZone items. Finding coolers filled with floating leftover water bottles, totes with soiled paper towels, and missing items was not pleasant. Knowing that tearing down will be quick and immediate, I need to better prepare next year.

I may try to choose one area where all the KidZone items stay until I can go through the items. By the end of the event, I hit an energy low. Dealing with cleanup was hard to swallow.

After each major event, I like to take a week to decompress and take a step back to view the big picture. With a little break, I can better rate the details to find the successes and failures. By writing down these observations and finding solutions, I bring these notes to the recap meeting for my report.

The recap meeting for this event was long, but lots of suggestions given to consider for improving our event for next year. In using time wisely, I celebrated the successes, learned from the unexpected surprises, and enjoyed the process.

Question: What helps you improve your events? Please add your comments and suggestions.

Event Planning: 2011 Fall Festival

The Fall Festival event raised $10,000 for our great school! Seeing the end result makes all the money, energy, and time invested in this project worth it. Having addressed this event in the My Upcoming 2011-2012 Events post, I also shared how distracted I became while planning in the Event Planning: Changing my Focus post. After concentrating on the framework, sections, and details, all the miscellaneous items came together for a great event by following a simple plan:

Handpicked Volunteers

With a reliable core group of volunteers, who were knowledgeable and ready to work, we pulled off an almost flawless execution of the plan. These volunteers were well-prepared, arrived on-time, and led by example.

   

Written Schedule

Having every delivery, payment, and setup location on a written schedule distributed to the core volunteers kept the setup and tear down process timely, accurate, and complete. The process was smooth as there was additional time scheduled in case problems arose or changes needed to be considered.

   

Relaxed, Controlled Atmosphere

Knowing that the plan was set and all volunteers were apprised of their responsibilities, the execution of the plans for the day were not stressful or ordered around. When all were relaxed and knew the plan, all the volunteers seemed to enjoy helping, chatting, and enjoying the event. Working in an organized framework helps all involved to stay on task while using time wisely.

   

By preparing in advance with all the details written and all volunteers informed, our event was a great success! Though there were items that I will plan better for next year (more on that to come), I was very pleased with the event and look forward to improving the KidZone for next year’s Fall Festival.

Question: When you volunteer to assist with an event, what can a coordinator do to make your service enjoyable? Please add your answer to the comments.

My Upcoming 2011-2012 Events

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Kees Straver)

The rain arrived this weekend in South Carolina, and I feel fall coming. With the cooler weather, pumpkin candles burning, and the changing of the leaves, I will be preparing for some large events this school year. Here is my current Event To-Do list that is already underway:

Fall Festival

In October, I have the privilege of coordinating the kids’ zone to raise money for our wonderful school. These preparations are in full swing, but still lots of details to complete.

Christmas Program

Having earned my graduate degree in theatre, I am honored to direct the school Christmas program again this year. In preparing for this event, I feel that I should be further along. The obstacle at this point is locating a script that works within the parameters of our program. Thankfully, a kind teacher provided some scripts for my review. Now, I need to schedule time to read through these options.

Spring Play

Taking on a full play with backdrops and scenery in addition to the costumes, lighting, and sound is a large undertaking. Staying surrounded by knowledgeable helpers, who can carry out delegated responsibilities, is a big key to a successful production. I am looking forward to working with the cast and crew. Thankfully, this script has already been decided.

As I continue keeping event notes and using time wisely, I will take you along on my journey. Hopefully, we will learn from my mistakes and celebrate the victories together. Happy planning this fall!