7 Tips for Preparing Your Farm for Fall Festivals
By Megan Wild
Autumn is a lovely time of year and the perfect season to host outdoor festivals to celebrate. Are you considering hosting a fall festival on your farm or homestead but not sure where to start or even what all is involved in the planning process? If so, it’s not as difficult as you may think.
Good planning is the key to hosting a successful festival and keeping your grounds safe. With a few tips, you can make the process simpler.
Consider Your Objectives
Decide what type of festival you are hosting. Will it be just for kids or the entire family? Is it best to charge for each game and activity or a flat fee to enter the festival? You’ll need to know these answers to create a budget and stick to it.
Start gathering volunteers and hold a meeting with leaders to answer these questions. Input from others on the team is a great way to brainstorm to decide on a theme and age-appropriate activities. Meetings also ensure everyone is on the same page so the entire process runs smoothly.
Decide on Time and Place
Once you know what type of festival you want to plan, you’ll have a better idea of how much room you’ll need and the best hours of operation. Whether you host the event on your homestead or another person volunteers, you need to consider how to protect the ground from damage. A good option is to consider installing geotextiles, which can protect your land from the extra stress. Geotextiles are permeable fabrics that provide strength by separating a foundation from the underlying soil.
During a festival, foot traffic alone can take a toll on the ground, as can other aspects of the festival such as food trucks, stages, and other structures for activities. You’ll need to choose a protection that acts as a boundary while providing structural support to heavily used areas of the grounds.
Discuss How Best to Manage the Festival
Hosting a festival involves a lot of planning and details. Choose volunteers and others who have strong skills in project management to assist with food, games, advertising, and donations. It’s often best to have sub-committees to make sure each aspect has its own dedicated group to get the job done.
Choose one person with strong organizational and leadership skills to head each committee. You can decide how many groups and volunteers you’ll need based on the size of your event.
You’ll need volunteers to help run the various activities and help with food stands, so start recruiting as early as possible. Consider creating an online signup sheet to help you find those interested in offering their time. Students who need to accumulate service hours for graduation often make good volunteers.
Include the various categories that you need volunteers for, such as setting up, clean up, entertainment, and other activities. Look into learning more about recruiting volunteers to make your festival a big success.
Discuss Buying or Making Games
One big question is whether you’ll be making activities from scratch or buying carnival games from a supplier. This can easily be answered if you’re on a tight budget — you’ll need to create your own.
Keep in mind, though, that there are a number of suppliers online where you can find affordable games, prizes, and other supplies for your event if it’s within your budget.
If not, your only limitations to creating fun, homemade festival games are your creativity, resources, and volunteers. You can still create a lot of fun activities, even when funds are limited.
Plan Your Menu
Food is often overlooked because of the hype over activities, but you need to plan what types of foods you’ll offer and at what price. You’ll have to decide who is in charge of making food or buying supplies.
Will you offer more snack foods and treats, such cotton candy, hot cider, popcorn and candy apples, or do you want to allow vendors to bring in food trucks? The type of foods and supplies depends on what your committee decides is best based on the projected attendance and type of event.
Come Up with Marketing Ideas
Any successful event depends on a good marketing strategy. One good channel for family events is the school system. Sending flyers to local schools is a great way to get the word out to families in your community. Local churches are another great place to place flyers and gain attendees for your event.
If it’s within your budget, place an ad in the local paper as well. The key is to start creating buzz about the event weeks ahead of time, so the news is out there and people are discussing well in advance.
Fall festivals do take a great deal of planning to create a fun and safe event for everyone; but, with good planning and a little effort, you and your volunteers can host a successful event.
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