The best way to be successful at what you do is to have passion for it. This month's article, by our very own Julie Cochrane, takes an inside look into one of our quirkiest festivals, LEAF, and what it takes to pull off such a fun, successful event.
If you are an event director as happy, positive, and colorful as your festival, chances are you've picked the right job. When your staff digs the mission too, probably the event is a successful one. "Live Life Like LEAF", that's the philosophy of Jennifer Pickering; executive director and founder of the LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
The heart of this festival beats a very positive vibration & emanates the spice of life, variety! It's not just the diverse international and local musical acts that make LEAF sell out in advance year after year. The interactive healing arts workshops, outdoor excitement like zip lining, canoeing, hikes, mountain side drum circles, an ever-expanding kid zone, and stunning arts and crafts vendors round out a very colorful, breathing, and loving festival so varied that you can't see everything it has to offer in one weekend, so you come back for more six months later.
The staff & volunteers wear LEAF's values on their sleeves; riding around in uniquely decorated golf carts, festively decked out and smiling. Positive energy is contagious; festival goers will feel it. Vendors feel it and desire to match it too. As leaders of an event, it is vital to blaze the path by example. The folks attending will catch on quickly and be transported to another dimension; one that as event producers, the framework is yours to build.
LEAF founder Jennifer Pickering offers these tips so you can enjoy your festival too
TRICK YOURSELF TO BE ZEN. "I always try to breathe a little bit, bring my voice down, walk a little softer, and not use certain words to trick myself that I am calm and zen."
DETAILS & MOMENTS. "Details count. People count. The little things do make a difference, and it is important to go out of your way to help people when you can- this can also drive your staff crazy."
PREPARE. "Prepare as far in advance as possible so that during the event you can talk and adhere to the moments needed."
A very strong volunteer team is essential to a large event like LEAF. The incentives and vibe must be appealing and fun to draw in eager participants. With creative planning and organized leadership, volunteers can bring your event to new heights by offering services like child care during concerts.
LEAF also manifests their mission outside the festival by incorporating two non-profits serving children locally and abroad, teaching arts and music to raise self esteem and bring positivity to communities. If your event has room for community involvement beyond the reach of the festival, it can bring in more support and interest far and wide. Giving back is a sure way to receive.
When you give your festival life and purpose, and believe in it with all you are, it will flourish. Know your community, serve it, and folks will return time and again.
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Julie Cochrane, marketing for FestivalNet.com, has been going to LEAF since college, as a volunteer, much later as a performer, and more recently as a camper. "Connecting Cultures & Creating Community through Music and Arts," LEAF is held every spring and fall for 17 years now, and has become the South East's largest international music festival. Learn more here: http://www.theleaf.org/
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