Feature Article - March 2008
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The Main Event

Pulling It Off Without a Hitch

By Kelli Anderson


Quality in

All partners in an event learning to play nice, however, is only part of the equation. What really draws the sponsors, the crowds and, hopefully, the revenue to do it all again next year is also a matter of quality.

Geneva knew it wanted to have at least one special event each quarter of the year. Seven years ago they decided to create a fine art fair.

"The art show developed, but we knew numbers weren't important. Quality was," Gaines said. "In our second year were rated as the most promising art show in the country. Now we're at capacity."

Being selective has meant attracting the best of the best, which translates into serious buyers and serious sellers. In quality versus quantity, quality is a clear winner.

With a similar predetermined vision to strive for quality, the farmer's market vendors of San Luis Obispo are carefully selected so that only the best and most unique are accepted. It is no surprise, then, that achieving the distinction as a vendor at the market is tantamount to industry success.

According to Cotta, however, maintaining quality is not only knowing what you want, but knowing what you don't want. "We aren't a crafts fair or a flea market," Cotta said. "We are mindful of our perception. We have really neat businesses come out. It's a win-win to get these products exposed to the general public."

Being distinctive helps too. According to IFEA, niche events began in the '90s and are still a determining factor in whether or not an event will draw the crowds. Looking around and seeing what others in nearby communities are doing—or not doing—is one way to know if you are on the right track.

For the Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission in Flint, Mich., the living history museum, which ran a narrow-gauge train—already a unique feature in the area—gave them an idea.

"We visited other sites and decided a Day Out With Thomas would be great," said Hilda McShane, park marketing specialist with the commission. "It's now the largest Day Out With Thomas event in the nation."