Organizing a country festival or fair is a big job, but it’s very doable even if you’re new to this type of work. The first step is to create a timeline and subcommittees to handle each portion of the event. Once the work is divided, it’s easier to oversee.
Choose a Theme
Whether you are hosting a festival as a fundraiser for a specific cause or to celebrate something, you will need to choose a specific theme. The theme should start with an overall name for the event like “Harvest Festival” or “Watermelon Thump” or “St. Michael’s 50 Year Jubilee” or “Back to School Bash.” Once you’ve decided on a name that does the most efficient job announcing to the public what your event is about in a memorable way, it’s time to choose other unifying factors such as a font for all your posters and flyers and a color scheme. Make sure everything about the event from banners to pre-sale tickets incorporates these elements for a more professional look.
Design a Children’s Area
One of the first subcommittees you should organize is the children’s area. This section of a country fair is so important because many parents are always looking for activities that they can enjoy as a family. This is also important when it comes to enlisting sponsors and recruiting vendors. If you can promise fun for the entire family, you’re likely to get a bigger crowd. Think about what children of all ages like to do and go from there. Many kids regularly practice eye hand coordination playing video games like Snake, so consider how this could translate to outdoor fun like a balloon toss or basketball related activity. Petting zoos are popular with all ages as are cake walks. Having a shady area and comfortable chairs where parents can rest with fussy babies is a great way to keep families who might otherwise go home early stay at your festival longer.
Festivals are fun because they allow locals to compete in contests at the hobby level. Many fairs begin with races for all levels including a non-competitive fun run and a stroller or dog walk. This type of activity often brings out people to compete who otherwise might not attend your event. If you’re lucky, they will stick around and spend a little money too. Baking contests or chili cook-offs are always fun. Nearby minor celebrities like the mayor, fire chief or high school principal can be recruited to judge. Prizes can be inexpensive and simple like a ribbon to more elaborate like a gift certificate depending on the amount of sponsorship money you get. During certain times of the year costume or decorative contests are popular.
Once you have a plan for why people will want to come to your festival and how people will have fun once they are there, it’s time to recruit sponsors. It’s best to have leveled sponsorships already organized before you start visiting businesses, but leave the door open for in-kind donations and non-traditional offers of help. A local bakery might not have extra money to donate outright but could be talked into providing cookies for the judges’ tent, for example. Likewise, an active college alumni group in the area might donate time to help visitors park -all decked out in their college t-shirts, of course. Middle school and high school students could earn service hours for picking up trash or working the dunking booth.
Country festivals are an excellent time for residents of the surrounding areas to showcase their wares. Anyone who has a home business making jewelry, selling Avon, or sewing baby blankets should be encouraged to set up shop. This is a great opportunity for new and small local businesses to get the word out about their product. Charge a small table set-up fee or ask for a donation, but keep it inexpensive, especially if this is the first year of your festival.
Small festivals and fairs are a great way to bring the community together. Start planning early, stay organized and watch your festival come to life.