Everyone loves a party. But often the person enjoying a party the least is the one who planned it. They’re too worried about logistics, too concerned about everyone else having a good time to allow themselves to relax and have fun. For Festivals, this can be especially true. Festivals are a huge undertaking, with a myriad of problems ready to pop up at any given moment.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Festival organizers can (and should) enjoy their own events, at the very least as a reward for all their hard work. For this, we offer some tips on how to keep from letting the weight of the festival wear you down.
Make checklists. Throughout the long planning process, the logistics will begin to pile up. If you don’t start with a strong foundation of organization, you’ll get lost. So, yeah. Checklists. They totally rule.
Depending on the size of your organization, you’ll want to provide yourself with enough support to lessen the strain. If you can’t afford to pay additional employees, put out a call for volunteers. You’ll be surprised at how generous people who believe in your cause will be with their time. Consider every angle. What kinds of performances will you have? Do you need assigned roles to each of the performers? How many vendors? How many volunteers will you have? Do you need a volunteer coordinator? Do you need a check-in person for those volunteers? The more you can define about your festival, the better you’ll be able to staff it appropriately. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to handle everything. Relinquishing some of your tasks will make your life easier and the event all the more successful.
Volunteers will be vital to your project of putting on a great festival. If you’re not planning on having volunteers, we suggest you reconsider. Volunteers can be your best ambassadors, and, from your point of view, it’s useful to cultivate support from the local community. Going to an event is one thing; helping one become a success is quite another. Volunteers, then, are in the interest of both the event and your organization as a whole. Plus, in a pinch, the right volunteer can be a life-saver.
If your festival is outdoors, the logistics of sound tech can be complex. Hire a Sound Technician for this. Trust us. You want a professional in case anything goes wrong. Connect the Sound Tech with all of the performers ahead of time, so that they have a good idea of what will be needed to ensure success.
Our suggestion: over-prepare. If you’re selling anything, or if your festival requires perishable supplies, we strongly recommend that you purchase at least 20% over your expected need. So many things can happen to supplies: boxes get lost, things break, get spoiled, or are the wrong size, etc. You will never be able to predict the kinds of problems that will arise regarding supplies. Overstock. Trust us.
If your budget accommodates, provide your staff and volunteers with water and food. They’ll appreciate it, and as a result they’ll work harder and, once again, your festival will benefit, too.
If you’re renting Tents, Portable Toilets, or Tables & Chairs, it’s best to coordinate their arrivals. Plan it out so that everything will get set up efficiently and on time. Also, you don’t want multiple people setting up multiple structures at once. Start with the larger rentals and move on to the smaller ones. Request delivery as early as possible. You don’t want to be setting up the day-of. The day-of, as you’ll see, is meant for other tasks.
The Day Before
Email all your performers and volunteers to check in about the festival. Obviously, by this point, they will all have confirmed their attendance. That’s not what this email is for. Instead, this is a message of encouragement and excitement, to rally the troops before the big day. Plus, you’ll want to thank them for all the work they’re about to do. This is also the time for any last minute issues to be dealt with.
The Day Of
Get up early. Eat a good breakfast. When you arrive at the scene, grab your trusty “Day-Of” checklist. Make sure you have all the supplies you need and know where they’re located. Meet with your volunteers (or your volunteer coordinator) and establish the itinerary. Do as many walk-throughs of the grounds as you need. Check supplies. Talk to your performers, make sure they have everything they need. A festival organizer, ideally, actually shouldn’t have too many tasks assigned to them on the day of the festival. They should be free to deal with any sudden circumstance. Otherwise, keep your eye on everything. And most importantly, be available. Rent two-way radios to keep in constant contact with your staff.
The Day After
First things first: celebrate. You may not want to throw a party just yet, but take a moment to congratulate yourself. Your biggest task is behind you. You just ran a festival! Give yourself some props!
Next, email your staff and volunteers to thank them for their support. Make sure they know how valuable they were to you, because a) they were valuable, and b) if they feel appreciated, they’ll come back again. Repeat volunteers and loyal staff are crucial to guaranteeing your next festival’s success.
Again, let us congratulate you on a successful festival! Not everyone is capable of pulling off such an enormous undertaking. Kudos to you! Now’s the time for real celebration! That is, until you have start planning for next year.