A fall harvest festival can be a great occasion with the right planning. Nestled in the fall setting, this event can take advantage of that perfect time of year when trees are bursting with color and everything pumpkin just makes sense.
These festivals work well with churches, schools, and other groups in the community and can be enjoyed by all ages for just about any budget. Here are some simple guidelines to make sure yours is a success.
Determine When and Where
Lots of organizers opt for Sunday afternoons or evenings so that they are not competing with kids activities through the week. The same is true of Saturdays, an option more suited if your church is hosting and has Sunday night activities they don't want to alter. Of course, the date might depend on the availability of the location. First, do you want it indoors or out? A parking lot can convert nicely to an area perfect for a festival if it's big enough. Don't forget to ask in advance about closing off roads and getting guards or policemen to help navigate crowds since you will be changing traffic patterns. A simple orange traffic cone should suffice in some areas to let people know they can't park or to go around. Remember to look for access to water and bathroom facilities when choosing your location.
Set Your Budget
Part of your budget could very easily be offset by securing donations of cash, decorations, and candy. If you have a cake walk, organizers of the event could each donate a cake or two, and members of the group might all bring a bag of candy. Games can be simple and inexpensive, like using pillowcases for a sack race or bringing a ball and playing four-square. If you are having a Trunk-or-Treat, everyone decorates their own trunk, doing a lot of the work and budget for you. Your budget will certainly dictate how big your event can be, so it should be determined early.
Choose Your Theme
A fall harvest festival can take a nod from the season and organizers can simply decorate using fall inspiration, like bales of hay, mums, and scarecrows. You might be able to borrow many of the things you need and can even give some of them away as prizes at the end. Other themes to consider might include a carnival or farm theme.
Maybe the key to your success is in your volunteers. Do you have enough friendly folks willing to help? If you have food, you'll need someone to cook, prepare, and serve it—someone who thinks in advance of napkins, condiments, and ice for drinks. Have people stationed strategically just in case someone has a question about where a game will be played or the best place to park. Who is in charge of setting up and taking down? Any event will require advance planning and several volunteers.
What will people do once they get there? Games, cakes walks, active play competitions (like tug-of-war), and crafts are always fun and fit well at a festival. Will you hire a magician or have someone come in and make balloon animals? Inflatables are always a big hit, too, and something to consider if you have the space. Don't forget prizes when people win!
Promote Your Event
You can put together the perfect event, but if no one knows about it, all of your work was for nothing. It doesn't have to be hard or expensive to promote a fall harvest festival. Write a story and submit it to the local newspaper, go on the radio if they have a community time to do so, put the event on calendars, like at the local chamber of commerce office. Email people on your lists, put up flyers, maybe even make a commercial for the local television station. Pass out cards to people or have cards you can distribute to local businesses. And of course, word of mouth goes a long way.
Planning a fall harvest doesn't have to be overwhelming. With some smart planning, hosting this event can be enjoyable and successful.