The River Region's Wave of the Future!
The Elmore County Economic Development Authority (ECEDA) recently hosted the Alabama Festival and Event Conference. The event drew attendees from across the state and as far away as Tennessee.The event goal was to help festival and event coordinators maximize planning, organization, and promotion efforts to enhance their success.Seasoned Alabama festival and event coordinators shared some of their best practices to encourage attendee’s efforts to take their events to the next level. Don McPherson, Gulf Shores Annual National Shrimp Festival Special Events Coordinator, said his group is hosting their 39th event this year.What began decades ago as a small, local event to help provide economic impact to the area during the shoulder season on the Gulf Coast, now draws thousands of visitors every year. He said the key to the Shrimp Festival success is its blend of unique art, seafood, and music coupled with a beautiful beach destination.At the opposite end of the spectrum, with only six-years since the idea was first “hatched,” Lawrence County’s Chicken and Egg Festival is a relative newcomer to specialty events. This year’s event had a budget under $100,000 and drew a crowd of 15,000. The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce created the Chicken and Egg Festival in an effort to increase tourism travel to the small rural community of Moulton.
Event Coordinator, Vicki Morese, encouraged attendees to “claim something,” in the community as “yours,” and then create a festival or event around it. In her case, Moulton laid claim to the chicken and egg because Alabama is the number three producer of poultry in the U.S. and employs more than 475,000 statewide.Other conference speakers shared information on event budgeting, securing sponsors, conducting fundraisers, and learning from mistakes.There were 200 openings for the event, which quickly filled resulting in a lengthy waiting list. We applaud ECEDA for their prescience in recognizing the need for this type of conference and making it happen.
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