Community festivals—Big benefits, but risks, too
Article from the University of Minnesota
Benefits of Community Festivals
Besides being fun, well-managed festivals and events offer a host of economic and social benefits to communities.
"Festivals have the opportunity to bring communities together and instill a sense of community pride and knowledge of their history,"
Boosting the economy
By definition, festivals attract visitors. And visitors spend money, which boosts the local economy both on and off the festival site. On-site spending includes admission fees, parking fees, food, beverage and souvenir sales — and more. Attendees at the 2011 Irish Fair of Minnesota, for example, spent an average of $50 at the festival site.
But off-site spending related to festivals generates revenue for communities, too. For example, visitors stop at local gas stations, souvenir shops, and restaurants — the list goes on.
Festivals also provide free marketing and advertising for local businesses as visitors talk about their fun experiences when they go back home. If visitors post comments and photos about their experiences on Facebook or other social media, so much the better. The economic benefits of successful festivals ripple throughout a local economy — affecting tourism and non-tourism-related businesses alike.
Fostering community pride
Planning and conducting festivals involves many members of the community, which yields a number of social benefits.
"The best thing about being involved with festivals and events is the opportunity to help build a community, foster a sense of pride within a community, and engage a community," says Chris Romano, a business consultant with Thrivent Financial Services. "Honestly, in my professional career, I've never found something outside a community festival that can do that to the same degree."
Experts agree that hometown pride is a critical factor in the development and improvement of any community. Residents with community pride are more likely to speak positively about their town to others and to volunteer with organizations and activities that support the common good.
Festivals promote community pride by celebrating things that make a town special and evoke good feelings. Those things can be as "big" as ethnic heritage, or as "small" as a piece of pastry. Two examples from Minnesota illustrate the point.
Each year, the community of Lindstrom hosts Karl Oskar Days to celebrate its Swedish heritage. That heritage is on display throughout the year in the form of statues, museums, historic sites, and shops selling Swedish-inspired products and foods. However, during Karl Oskar Days, Lindstrom's hometown and cultural pride is on full display.
The festival features log rolling, live Swedish music, a street dance, parades through the town, and more. The Karl Oskar Days event attracts visitors from as close as nearby St. Paul and as far as Sweden itself.
The town of Montgomery in southern Minnesota also celebrates its heritage, but with a different twist. Independent Contractor Randy Gutzmann is a fan. "I love a celebration that revolves around a Czechoslovakian pastry," he says.
The pastry is kolacky (also spelled kolache), a concoction consisting of sweet bread and different fillings, especially fruit — such as prune, apricot, and poppy seed. The pastries abound during Montgomery's annual Kolacky Days celebration. Like Karl Oskar Days, Kolacky Days draws visitors from near and far.
Teaching new things
Whatever a festival's theme, it's bound to be instructional and visitors are bound to learn from it. Of course, education (including greater awareness and new knowledge) is another social benefit of festivals. But this isn't learning from a book or in a classroom — this is hands-on, experiential learning offered in the fun context of celebration.
Learning is a big byproduct of the annual Lady Slipper Celebration in the northwestern Minnesota community of Blackduck, which lies at the head of the 28-mile long Lady Slipper Scenic Byway. The community launched the celebration, named after the Minnesota state flower, to showcase and promote understanding of the area's natural resources and Native American culture, as well as attract visitors to the byway. (The small community of Kabetogama and Voyageurs National Park in northeastern Minnesota also honor the lady's slipper with an annual Lady Slipper Festival.)
The University of Minnesota Tourism Center measured whether Lady Slipper Celebration sponsors had achieved their educational goals through a visitor profile conducted in 2011. In response to a questionnaire, 87 percent of celebration attendees indicated they had learned new information about lady slippers, while 47 percent said they were more knowledgeable about Native American culture after attending the event.
This educational experience helped visitors connect to the area. According to the Tourism Center study, 83 percent of first-time visitors said they were satisfied with their experience and planned to return to the area.
A third social benefit of festival sponsorship is stronger relationships within a community. Most of the relationship-building occurs in the festival planning phase. This is where the bonds among public and private organizations, government, and neighborhood groups are forged and where connections among elected officials, staff, volunteers and interested residents are made.
Assuming everything else goes well, the payoff to this relationship-building is a successful festival. But the benefits last well beyond the event, as people bring their connections and collective knowledge and skills to improve the community.
Connections are the "glue" that hold communities together; without them, a community stagnates and the quality of life declines. Experts call this glue social capital, so viewed through this lens — festival sponsorship increases the social capital that makes for healthy communities.
Value of training
As noted, hosting a festival is not without risks and costs. While a successful event enhances a community's reputation, a less-than-successful effort (or outright failure) does just the opposite.
In the end, festival management means minimizing damage and maximizing opportunity. To help community leaders achieve this balance, the University of Minnesota Tourism Center offers training in the essentials of festival and event management.
The Festival and Event Management program covers strategic planning, site management, budgeting and financial planning, marketing and sponsorship, human resource management and volunteer recruitment, and event evaluation. "I highly recommend it to anyone looking to expand their base of knowledge, creative thinking, and to implement fantastic festivals and events," says Shari Kunza of the City of Shoreview, a past participant.
What are the benefits of community festivals?
They can boost the economy of your community and increase the visibility of your local artists. They also draw in visitors from outside the area, boosting revenue for local hotels and restaurants and increasing tourism to your city or town.Mar 1, 2023
How community events benefit the community?
Community-wide events bring people from all walks of life together, strengthening the bonds between them. Those bonds act to improve mental well-being, while helping to alleviate personal struggles. Establishing a strong town identity is important, particularly for smaller townships.Jun 26, 2018
The Importance of Organizing Community-Wide Events
What value does a festival can develop in our community?
They help preserve and celebrate cultural heritage, traditions, and history. They bring people together, fostering a sense of community and belonging. Festivals also provide an opportunity for people to express themselves creatively and artistically through dance, music, and other art forms.
ACTIVITY 2 Processing questions: Why is there a need for festivals ...
What are the objectives of a festival?To provide opportunities for the society to discover and develop their cultural skills and abilities. To provide opportunities for the local community to engage in new activities in the arts and other creative fields.
Objectives Of The Festival - International Şile Cloth Culture and ...
How to Promote a Festival
· Partner with Local Companies and Sponsors. ...
· Choose the Right Ticketing Company. ...
· Get Active on Social Media. ...
· Hold Contests and Give Promotional Items. ...
· Start Advertising. ...
· Invest in Quality Marketing Materials. ...
· Use Email Marketing. ...
· Reach out to Influencers and the Media.
Join us for a Celebration!
Describe the mission of your organization.