Event organizing is a skill, and the more events you host, the better you’ll get at doing it. Vegfests have many elements and details to factor in, but with a positive attitude, good organization, and a reliable team by your side, your vegfest is sure to be a great success! These vegfest organizing tips have been consolidated from VegFund’s Focus Group research and event feedback from some of our veteran grantees.
1. Find a suitable venue. Locating a venue employee who will helpful with the site rental and the permitting details is invaluable. Make sure that you are clear on the venue rules and regulations from the outset to avoid obstacles during the event planning process.
2. Make sure you have a reliable team with a good working dynamic. The number of team members required will depend on the scale of your event — too many people will get in each other’s way, and if it’s too few people, they’ll be overworked. Medium- to large-scale vegfest events (e.g., 2500–4000 attendees) typically use about 2–4 core organizers plus 3–5 key volunteers, and 30–40 volunteers on the day of the event.
3. The committee (core organizers) usually consist of a minimum of three core volunteers: one to handle sponsors and vendors, one to handle logistics, and one to handle promotion. Other key volunteers can handle the food court, entertainment, campaigns and animal rescues.
4. The most sought-after skills that are an asset to vegfest organizers include the following:
- Web design skills
- Graphic design skills
- Photography skills
- Video editing skills
- Clerical/bureaucratic, or “paper work” skills
- Formal event-planning specialization
- Fundraising and sponsor recruitment
- Media spokespeople or public relations specialization
- Community outreach and networking skills
5. For a vegfest to be financially self-sustaining, you need sponsors and/or vendors to support the event. Once they understand the value of the work, they’ll be willing to pay solid fees that provide a decent budget for the overall event. Finding an inexpensive venue is nice, but sometimes it’s worth paying extra to hold the event at a popular, well-located city venue.
6. The fees for sponsors and vendors should be carefully determined by comparing fees charged by other local events and other national vegfests, as well as soliciting input from key sponsors and/or vendors.
7. Most vendors you’ll recruit are food vendors. Local vegan or vegetarian restaurants are preferred. If additional ones are needed, then vegetarian-friendly restaurants are an option. Caterers can also be considered. All food served and advertised at the event must be vegan. It’s important to be clear about venue rules and regulations from the outset. Some venues have strict rules and regulations concerning serving food and might require you to use their in-house caterers.
Other vendors to consider are health professionals (alternative doctors, chiropractors, and acupuncturists), holistic living products, solar energy companies, religious groups, animal rights groups, animal rescue groups, and artists. You may have vendors that apply who may or may not seem appropriate for a vegan festival. These are judgement calls, but you may want to accept them as long as they abide by the terms and conditions of the event.
8. Set up a good communication system with your vendors and potential vendors via an email service (e.g., Constant Contact) or other messaging service.
9. Build your contacts database. Look for ways of collecting as many email addresses as possible in order to inform the community of the event and encourage vendors to sign up.
10. Event promotion is key to any event’s success and should consist of a diverse and balanced mix of media and strategies, such as:
– Bus Ads
– Community calendars or special interest calendars
– Local daily newspaper ads
– Ads in weekly free papers
– Ads in non-English or ethnic community paper (Spanish-language papers for example)
– Promotional postcards
– Press releases
- Social media and online:
– Facebook Ads
– Asking followers or friends to re-post the event
– Facebook invites
– Twitter (mostly to reach vendors, nonprofits etc, rather than attendees)
– Internal email list
– Outside email lists (send a pre-written email to another group to copy and paste into their newsletter)
– Popular blogs (with a local or food focus)
- Broadcast media:
– Radio ads
– TV appearances, local news segments
– Celebrity endorsements or promotions
– Local government recognition (declaring the week “VegWeek” or something similar)
– Sponsor and/or vendor trades (often a good alternative to paid advertisement)
11. Keeping costs down is important. Some of the most successful vegfest organizers are able to control expenses through donated services, such as finding musicians who will play for free and covering only limited travel expenses for speakers. Some organizers work to establish connections with members of the community who will let them borrow gear and equipment. A donation ask at a music event also works well and helps to support the travel costs for musicians.
12. Vegfests that are held outdoors offer a valuable way of celebrating your local community in a visible, vibrant atmosphere that’s an advertisement in itself!