After attending the NAI National Conference in November, I came back to my Nature Center and dove headfirst into the hardcore planning for our annual Fairy House Festival (February 10th, 2018, you know you want to come!). As I lay awake the other night, trying to turn off the “Festival Brain” and actually rest, it occurred to me…
Planning and running a special event is like caring for a 2 year old. No, really, it is! Think about it for a minute. Things are going to go wrong, you just accept that fact and move along with your life. And when they don’t, you freeze and look around suspiciously. You are constantly braced for the barrage of questions: Why are we doing this? Are we there yet? HOW much did you spend?!? You provide answers again and again and again: Because it’s good for us. It’ll help us grow. Because I said so! Your pour time and energy and a little pieces of your soul into “raising” this beast…and then you see how wonderfully it turns out. You watch the happy faces of the participants and they see all your hard work. Every day working with a special event is a learning opportunity, I promise. Just make it a mantra: I am growing as an interpreter and this is good for me. Ommmmm.
A few things I’ve learned along the way (and am still learning):
- Delegate! Whether your event is for 30 people or 3500, delegate those responsibilities! You’ll lose less hair!
- The budget never works. Plan on that.
- Don’t let your wings get stuck in a tree (doubly important if you’re a fairy). Have a Plan B! And a Plan C. And a Plan D, E, F, G…what does that spell? Backup!!!
- Doesn’t matter what time of year it is, the weather will be wacky. Especially if you live in North Carolina. Plan ahead and have weather contingencies. I’ve worked festivals in rain and snow, wind and tornadoes. Be prepared!
- You are not going to please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Nobody’s perfect and that’s okay!
- Glitter never truly gets cleaned out of anything. Consider this before creating signage or activities. Also consider if your signage is legible and your activities accessible. And really, really avoid reaching for the glitter.
- Stop. Breathe. Have a little fun yourself at the event. Walk around and enjoy it! If you’re not having fun, then what’s the point of doing it?
Now, I’m still learning and I love hearing from other event coordinators. Have you run a special event lately? What about sometime in the past? What have you learned???