Over the years we have been asked how do you plan a fete, fair or festival.
It is a dawnting task, often left to professional planners, so if you have any doubts then consider finding professional help.
After reading our guide, there are some helpful links at the bottom of the page that will help you.
Finally, a heads up.. Fetes and Festivals has been Australia’s one-stop-shop for organisers of festivals and outdoor events since 1998. They are an excellent resource to help you plan by providing a range of helpful tools as well as a Fete Guide. We did like their final tip… breathe!
Festival Fete Fair Planner
Here is a guide to planning a fete, fair or festival…
Your fete, fair or festival
The annual fete, fair or festival is a major fund raising activity for any school or community group. Apart from all the hard work involved in organising a large event, you will have a lot of fun and make many new friendships.
Where do you begin?
Organising a successful event takes many months of planning. The key to success is a well organised, enthusiastic and motivated committee. It will be necessary to organise regular meetings, initially monthly, and then fortnightly and weekly as the day grows closer. Initial committee meetings should review the aims and objectives of the activity. If possible, draw on the previous year’s committees for advice and experience. Encourage as many people as possible to join, or become a ‘friend of’ the committee.
Once your Fete Committee is in place, allocate specific tasks to individual members. Key members of the committee will include:
You then need to appoint convenors or co-ordinators for each stall and activity. These convenors should appoint their own sub-committee, made up of parents and friends willing to assist. The convenor will need to organise helpers on the day, and organise a roster of those volunteers. It will also be their responsibility to source items for the stall. Appointing these convenors takes the pressure off the key fete committee members.
If your school has a large ethnic mix, approach those groups to provide food stalls supplying food from their country of origin. This will give you some really interesting stalls, spicy food is very popular and makes a change from the normal hamburger and chips usually offered.
Other non-stall convenors:
- Equipment hire
- Electrical requirements
- Purchasing officer
- Publicity officer
- Performing arts
- First aid
Selecting a Date
The most important starting point is a date. Consult with other schools or groups in your area to ascertain if dates have been selected. You do not want your date to conflict with another local school hosting a similar function. You will also need to ensure that your school is not involved in any major sporting events away from the school on that date. Check also that you don’t coincide with such sporting events as grand finals.
Selecting a Theme for your event
Theming your event is a good basis for stall selection. Possibilities are endless and committee members will soon get their creative juices running. Popular themes are country fairs, rock and roll, international, etc.
Your theme can set the mood for the day and the colour scheme – going with a country fair your convenors can be encouraged to dress their stalls with hay and dried flowers, an international fair can use flags. Encourage the children to dress in keeping with the theme and have prizes for the best dressed.
Booking Rides and Equipment
Source outside equipment as early as possible; This will include Carnival rides and sideshows – if your fair is during the popular months these items could already be booked. Many schools rebook equipment twelve months in advance. The availability of rides may impact on the date of your evenet. Book early to ensure good choice. Consult this site for carnival rides and all other equipment/vendors you will need.
Also, look at the ages of your target market. Eleven year old boys are not interested in jumping castles. Five year old girls are not interested in dodgem cars. Choose a mix of rides that are appropriate for the age group of your school. A very popular idea is to charge a set fee for bracelet that enables the wearer to ride all day. Discuss this option with your rides supplier. Most ride suppliers will offer you the option of hiring the rides outright, or for a percentage of takings. If you intend using street entertainers or performers, they also need to be booked well in advance.
Draw a map of the grounds and plan out where each stall should be positioned. Pay attention to the mix of stalls – you don’t want to put a show bag stall in the middle of the food court.
It is best to confine your fete to a limited area rather than spreading through the entire grounds. In this way, you keep your audience circulating around your stalls. Spreading out too much can loose customers. Choose an area that has good flat sites and, if possible, electricity.
Carnival rides will generally supply their own power sources but stalls may need power, especially if the event is to carry on into the evening.
Have a contingency plan in place in case of wet weather.
On the day of the fete a finalised map can be handed out to people as they enter so they can easily locate the stall they are looking for. This map can be on the back of the day’s programme of events. Have your event co-ordinators dressed in clothes that are easy to spot so that people arriving to set up stalls can easily find them.
On the day of the fete, use spray paint on grass, or chalk on bitumen and concrete, to mark out stall areas, or use prominent signs.
Select a central area for the stage for entertainment. Ensure this area has plenty of clear space for audiences and try and provide as much shade as possible.
You will need to appoint one or two people to act as MC for the day. You will need to ensure that a good sound system is in place – one that can be heard from the entire site. MC’s must be given a comprehensive listing of stalls so they can promote them throughout the day and “specials” as they come to hand, as well as raffles, lost children, etc.
Always source entertainment from within your school or social group. If each class is encouraged to perform one song/dance routine on the day, you are assured of a good turnout of families. Liaise with the performing arts section of your school for special performances such as dance, bands, etc.
Roving street entertainers are a popular resource. Consult the Entertainment section of Fetes and Festivals for a full list of entertainment available in your area.
Also look to your local community – displays by local Fire and Police departments are popular as are sports displays such as Martial Arts and local dance schools. If your school hall is rented out to sporting groups they will probably be delighted to put on displays and promote their activity as well.
Publicity is an extremely important aspect – it is vital that you get the message out to the local community. Appoint a publicity officer to promote the event. Local newspapers will generally give free publicity for events. Invite local schools to attend. Search your school community for people with contacts in media or PR, as well as printing for posters. Assess the possibility of a major prize for attending.
School newsletters are the major promotion tool to school families. Include an extra sheet specifically for fete promotion. Start well in advance and promote a different stall each week using a different coloured paper. Your school family is where you source your goods. Target a different item each week seeking requests for donations and help. Actively promote businesses which have offered help or sponsorship for the event. Offer prizes to the class with collects the most donations. Have free dress days leading up to the fete and ask for a donation of food, cake ingredients and other items in return for not wearing a uniform.
Check with local councils before placing posters on streets as this may be prohibited in some areas. Most radio stations run a community hot line and will promote your event on air at no cost. Radio stations also have excellent web sits with community information pages, don’t forget to list your event here.
Security and Money
It is essential that a secure area be set aside for collection and counting of money. Generally the school office area. You must have an area which can be locked. School fetes, fairs and festivals, when well organised, can raise considerable sums of money.
Coins and money bags are available from your bank. It may even be possible for a coin counting machine to be made available. Make floats available for stall holders prior to the fete commencing. Keep detailed records of the amounts given. Supply stall holders with bags for collecting money during the day. People collecting money should wear a badge to identify themselves to stall holders. Ensure that stall holders know the correct procedure for handing over money during the day. Ensure that adequate change remains on the stall. Ensure you have calico bags made in advance for each stall. Make and clearly name two for each stall – cash collectors need to know what stall money came from so it can be correctly recorded.
Ensure that outside vendors pay for their stalls in advance and arrange for collection of percentages at the conclusion of the fete. Ensure that adequate security arrangements have been made for collection or storage of takings at the end of the day. If the school does not have an adequate safe, investigate the possibility of a security company collecting takings.
New parents to the school may bring new ideas. Look for businesses owned within the school – a parent may own the local ice cream parlor – encourage them to have a stall over an outside operator.
All items should be priced prior to the fete commencing. . Generally prices should be a little below the shop prices for a similar item. Don’t change prices until late in the day – towards the end of the Fete it may be decided to reduce prices to encourage quick sales. This should be discussed with the Fete convenor. Always ask companies if they are willing to provide stock on consignment – this will save you having leftover stock at the end of the day and save you having to reduce prices.
Make each year level responsible for a particular stall.
Our stall ideas page has lots of information for you
After the Event
Immediately after the event, put on a barbeque for all the parents who helped. It is a great way of using up left over food and is really appreciated by the helpers.
Don’t forget to write thank you letters to all the organisations who donated goods and the people who gave their time to make your event a success.