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Planning for Communitywide Special Events:
A North Central Regional Extension Publication
Securing Financial Support and Physical Facilities
Among the many areas of concern for the special event-planning team are securing enough funds to get the event under way and arranging for adequate space and physical facilities.
Regardless of the main purpose for the event, planners will need some finances to get started. Promotional efforts, rental or purchase of special equipment, contract agreements with entertainment groups, and acquisition of smaller supplies and prizes all require some funding prior to the event. Equipment and facilities, including buildings, parks, stages, concession stands, and others, may also have to be rented beforehand.
Fortunately, the "community" nature of most events makes the task of securing funds, equipment, and other donations easier than it would be if the planning group and event itself were narrower in scope. Many planners of successful communitywide special events indicate that the whole community is involved. Thus, it is likely that community business people, club leaders, government officials, and other citizens expect to be asked to either contribute funds or services through direct donations of supplies, equipment, and other facilities, or through discount prices on items needed for the event. Many more people expect to be asked to help build floats or stages, set up bleachers or public address systems, sell concessions, make and serve food, or perform any number of other tasks. This type of community expectation and desire to "pitch in" typifies successful event planning.
When direct appeals do not produce enough funds and facilities to stage the event, special-event planners must employ a number of other techniques for securing money. Some groups ask their local chambers of commerce for financial support. Others sell decals, booster buttons, or bumper stickers advertising the town and its event. Still other groups raiser money by holding raffles (with prizes donated by local merchants), sell advertisements in the event's printed program (with printing time and paper donated by a local company or newspaper), require financial backing for queen contestants, hold fund-raising dinners, or set fees for those selling crafts or other merchandise at the event. Other fund-raising ideas were listed previously in Part 1 of this article.
Planning for Crowd Control, Safety, and Contingencies
Studies of typical communitywide special events show that groups often make insufficient plans for the control, safety, and comfort of those who attend the event. To prevent problems in this area, estimates of anticipated attendance should be high, a pessimistic outlook should be taken toward the weather, and consideration should be given to the unfortunate results which could occur because of the nature or location of event activities.
In planning for the safety and comfort of those who attend the event, as much professional help as possible should be obtained. Police and firemen, ambulance and hospital personnel, Boy or Girl Scouts, and other "service" people should be identified and recruited.
Consultants from state or local departments of health can meet with local planning groups to discuss plans for the health and safety of event participants.
The health, comfort, and safety of those attending the event can be enhanced by the creation of a rest area away from the mainstream of event activities but close enough to the action to be readily accessible. This area can be located in a vacant store, a park shelter, a large tent, or any other place where people tired of walking or in need of relief from the hot sun or noisy crowds could rest. If the rest area is outside, local garden center operators, garden club members, or park department personnel could create a decorative minipark for this purpose.
Restrooms should be clean and easily accessible to event areas. Rental of portable units maybe necessary if large crowds are expected.
Adequate parking lots with attendants should be make available during the event. Wherever possible, paved areas around schools, churches, and other buildings should be used to avoid the mud problem that results when sudden showers soak grass or dirt parking lots.
Access to the event areas should be clearly marked and free of barriers or danger spots that could injure pedestrians. Activities should be placed close enough together for convenience, but not so close that event areas become overcrowded.
Special precautions need to be taken for the control and safety of crowds for many events including parades, auto races, and fireworks displays.. Such precautions may include the provision of auxiliary police, barricades, public address systems, signs, and roped-off areas. A first-aid tent and standby ambulance crew should also be part of almost any communitywide special event.
If the event is to held outside, planners must consider what will happen if it rains the day of the festivities. Will there be a rain date? If so, when will it be and how will the publicity be handled? Are there performers or supplies that may not be available at that time? Are there monetary guarantees to consider? These and other contingencies must be discussed early in the planning process.
About the Author:
This publication is a revision of the 1976 circular by Robert P. Humke and Anne Murray Stenolen. This edition was prepared by Robert D. Espeseth, recreation resource specialist, Office of Recreation and Park Resources, Department of Leisure Studies and the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service. It is designed especially for groups planning their first communitywide events; however, the material will also be of value to those evaluating existing events in the hope of making them more successful.
North Central Region Extension Publications are subject to peer review and prepared as part of the Cooperative Extension activities of the thirteen land-grand universities of the 12 North Central states, in cooperation with the Extension service - U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington D.C. The following states cooperated in making this publication available.
University of Illinois (publishing state)