Thursday, February 16, 2006

Perils and Pitfalls of Small Town Event Planning

February may be a winter month. Summer seems far away. Yet event organizers in Mountainair – and small towns all across the state – are stirring. The careful observer can see signs of life in meetings, phone calls, e-mails, casual conversations, event calendars. For some, visions of daytrippers dance through their heads. Others are moved to recreate and maintain remembered spring and summer holidays. All face similar obstacles in the sometimes trajectory from planning to execution: effective (if not always equitable) distribution of limited resources; too few people wearing too many hats; a natural human loathing of meetings; organization politics; a shortage of untapped, willing volunteers; and its corollary, volunteer burnout. The perils and pitfalls of putting on events in Mountainair is undoubtedly representative.

Firecracker Jubilee Parade, 2000

Mountainair’s event menu has changed in recent years. Several years ago, long-time Ranchers Day bit the dust. Firecracker Jubilee survived Chamber of Commerce dumping by the skin its teeth when Rotary took it over. The Sunflower Festival in August may seem robust by small town event standards but now faces Jubilee’s fate. The Chamber, determined to limit event organizing involvement, handed Sunflower over to the Manzano Mountain Art Council, not unlike downsizing or even passing unwanted orphans onto another family member - and without mention appearing in the minutes of either group. Will the Manzano Art Council, hemoraging burnt out members after the massive but exhausting effort of last year’s Studio and Gallery Tour, be up to the task of an Arts Tour in late May and the Sunflower Festival in late August? How many events can a small town reasonably support? What other questions does this pattern raise?

Sunflower Festival Emblem:
Sunflowers in Art Alley (R.I.P.)
(gone the way of Ranchers Day)

1 comment:

artislife said...

Oh Vanessa!! Please keep all makes so much more sense when you do!


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