Amy Dawson is an event manager with 10 years’ plus experience. She has managed large scale public events including the Perth Fashion Festival, Caravan and Camping Shows in Perth, Melbourne and Bendigo and the Perth Holiday and Travel Expo.
Amy has managed countless conferences, roadshows, exhibitions and incentives around Australia. Amy has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Western Australia majoring in Marketing and Accounting with a minor in Business Law. She shares with us some of her wisdom about organising large scale events.
1. Have a strong and visible leadership team
People are willing to help organised organisers, and if you have a strong successful team with proven results, people are more likely to volunteer.
A leadership team, even for the largest of events should only have around 3 or 4 key people and they need to cover logistics, finance, food and entertainment.
Individual stalls can have their own organiser, but there should be a strong, visible team who are both approachable and experienced, and who oversee the entire event
2. Maximise low (or free) cost base stalls
Concession stands such as carnival rides and petting zoos which are brought in for your event might be big draw cards for customers, but it is the low cost base stalls which make the majority of money. Any stall where the products are donated or purchased at cost, and where parents are responsible for staffing, have the potential to bring in the largest amounts of profit.
Examples are cake stalls, second-hand books and toys, bric-a-brac or white elephant stalls, plants sales, sausage sizzle and other food stalls and raffles.
While it is tempting these days to go high class and to try and emulate the more exclusive market events, you must remember that people expect to find these simpler stalls at their local school fete, and families appreciate being able to purchase food and toys for their kids at a reasonable price.
3. Look at supply and demand
It is important to look at your local community as well as your school community and get a feel of what will sell. A small fete in the local primary school will be catering primarily to families with kids younger than twelve. A high school or sports club where the kids are up to eighteen will be catering to a very different crowd.
As such older kids will need more Royal Show type rides, chill-out spaces and things like a silent disco while younger kids will be happier with bouncy castles, petting zoos and craft.
If you are advertising to the wider community, be aware of who will be coming and organise (and market) your event accordingly. Is the school right next to a Lifestyle Village for older people or right in the middle of an area where there are plenty of DINKS?
4. Sell space to local or family businesses
A quick way to broaden not only the physical size but also the community appeal of a school fete is to sell space to local businesses or families within the school. For a pre-determined ‘rent’, the businesses (or WAHMs, local restaurants, artisans etc) can set up a stall to sell their own products. It is common to also ask for a donation of their products (or vouchers) to the value of $50-$100 to raffle with the proceeds to the school or club.
5. Get a good logistics person
It’s all very well to have people with big ideas and endless creativity, but when planning a big fete or festival, the key person is one who can manage logistics.
Start a conversation with the local council early on in the process – you might need special permits for selling food, having carnival rides or animals on site, permissions for mass parking or other traffic issues.
The logistics person is the one who looks at what stalls will be present and organises access to electricity (will you need a generator?) and space for large trucks and trailers to access the site to make deliveries. Will you need to hire portable toilets? How far should the petting zoo be from the food stalls?
When setting up the food stalls, rather than have them all in a long line, consider having them in a large U shape, with seating in the middle. It is much more community minded – and will you have tables and chairs, hay bales or some other type of seating?
A good logistics person will look at all the resources at their disposal including space, volunteers/manpower, existing furniture and supplies and ensure that everything is used to its potential, and consideration is given to unexpected events.