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Festival or Event Planning Guide

How to Organize a Birding or Nature Festival

Nancy S. Millar   See more about Nancy Millar

How The Pieces Fit Together

  • If you can, find an emcee who is a naturalist. S/he will be able to add real enthusiasm when introducing your big guns, and will be sure to cover most important accomplishments of speakers appropriately, adding, perhaps, anecdotes or other personalized tidbits to the introductions.
  • You also, of course, want to make sure that the emcee is comfortable with a microphone. In the past, we’ve used a priest and a retired school teacher- both used to talking to crowds.
  • This person will be the “face” of your festival, its most visible representative, so be sure it is someone who will make the kind of impression you want people to remember.
  • This person- or group of people- will be responsible for planning and organizing committee meetings, developing a list of all members’ names and addresses and telephone numbers- all the numbers you can get (car, pager, home, work). Here are some tips for keeping everyone smiling:
  • Give members plenty of advance warning for meetings if possible (sometimes it won’t be). Try to get everyone enthused about the project so that there will be a real feeling of commitment.
  • Make sure they feel valued. Thank them profusely and make sure they are invited to the survivors’ party and thanked in any other way you can think of.

It will be up to the chairman to guide the project and keep all the volunteers happy.

  • A very nice touch would be to do something special for the executive committee the first day of the festival- just some little sign of appreciation. Our chairs did that, often coming up with some little thing personalized for each of us.
  • Expect and accept with grace any memento your committee gives you during or after the event.
  • It will be especially appreciated if you personally thank any staff members who often are overlooked but who are vital to the organization and successful implementation of an event of this magnitude.
  • Consider introducing all committee chairs on stage, perhaps just before the keynote, saying a sentence or two to personalize the introductions.

The treasurer will obviously play a vital role in the festival. Make sure the person chosen to be in charge of the finances is above reproach and very well organized.

  • S/he will need to devise systems for registration and novelty income and the disbursement of fees and other expenses, as well as depositing the funds.
  • The treasurer also should be responsible for supplying the steering committee with financial information before, during and after the festival.
  • Consider a voucher system for refunding money after the festival has begun. Vouchers can be used for novelties or other seminars or field trips. This will save much time and effort.
Executive Committee
  • It falls to the executive committee to keep the energy up and to thank the chairman in an appropriate way. A good time to present her or him with a token of esteem would be during the presentation of the committee the last evening of the festival.
Headquarters Layout could include:
  • Exhibitor/attendee registration booth
  • Novelty sales table
  • Finance headquarters (secured)
  • Volunteer rest area/VIP rest area
  • First aid station
  • Hospitality table
  • Children’s display
  • Staging room for equipment

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