Operating a Planning a Fair, Festival or Event
"Making Your Festival Festive!"
The items listed above are some of the more general things to consider when developing an entertainment program.
There's more to it than that, though. Lots of details must be nailed down, too:
- Festivals are supposed to be fun and for many people that simply means one thing: entertainment. But entertainment committees often fi nd their jobs to be anything but simple. Fortunately, there are several general principles for keeping matters from getting out of hand.
- Be sure to have some excellent workers on this committee. People just wanting to pad their resumes should look for other assignments.
- Begin planning early for entertainment. Many performers are booked in advance and are unavailable on short notice. A professional sound lighting and stage company will often book a year in advance.
- Know your audience and plan accordingly. A clown is probably more suitable for a group made up primarily of children, just as a symphony concert would be more appropriate for adult gatherings.
- Put variety in the program. Nearly every community and certainly every region has enough talent to provide a wide range of entertainment. Barbershop quartets, ballet and modern dancers, martial arts groups, gospel singers, and square dancers are some that come to mind quickly. Other performances---like hot air balloons and magic shows---can be brought in from nearby locales.
- Don't overlook sponsors. Many groups looking for exposure perform without charge but others require a fee. If the committee decides on a paid performance but does not have the necessary funds, one answer might be to seek a sponsor. In many towns, local businesses frequently underwrite the costs of the featured entertainment.
- Let festival goers participate in their own entertainment. Get them involved in events like tug of war, pet shows, kite flying contests, parent/child sack races, tricycle riding derbies and countless others. The closer the ties between the entertainment and the theme, the better.
- Be creative. People seem to be especially attracted to unusual performances and often times the zanier the better.
- Staging. Make sure that the entertainers know what kind of accommodations to expect. Will they be performing on a wooden stage, flatbed trailer, the lawn, or under a tent? In this day and age a covered stage is almost mandatory to protect the expensive sound and lighting equipment from rain, dew, and sun.
- Lighting. Evening performances may require artifi cial lighting. Will entertainers bring their own systems or will lights be provided?
- Sound. Small groups usually furnish their own sound equipment but other entertainers may expect it to be supplied. Remember, a system consists of more than microphones, amplifi ers, speakers, and the cables tying it all together; a dependable operator/troubleshooter makes the sound system complete. See the complete section on Sound and Lighting later in this book.
- Dressing Rooms. Some performers entertain in their street clothes and others change into the appropriate dress before reaching the festival grounds. Still others-especially some of the costumed characters-will require dressing rooms.
- Performance Contracts. As noted earlier, some entertainers perform for free and others must be paid. Always sign contracts with those in the latter category, specifying what services will be performed and at what cost. It's not a bad idea to sign a similar agreement with the free entertainers so that the deal is spelled out and fully documented.
- Scheduling. Determine early on how much time will be allotted to entertainment and how much is to be reserved for each performance. Make certain that each act is fully aware of the schedule and stick to it.
- Emcees. Somebody needs to be designated emcee-or master of ceremonies. Use someone who is comfortable in front of large crowds. Local disk jockeys, television personalities, or legislators may be able to help out. If the entertainment program runs a full day, spread out the work among several emcees. Above all, give them complete information about the performers they'll be introducing and ask them to review the material ahead of time.
- Publicity. In many instances, entertainment is the major draw for the festival. Work closely with the publicity committee to ensure that promotional efforts fully refl ect the entertainment program that is on tap. And fi nally, have some solid contingency plans. Build in a bit of flexibility. Things seldom go exactly as scheduled.