Awesome Event Planning: A Recipe For Success!

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Glancing around the room, it was a relief to see that most of the carefully arranged chairs were now being occupied, open mic slots had been filled and all headliners were here and ready to go. Now we just needed to give everyone a good time!

The Atherstone Stonefest emerged from a group discussion in August 2016. Several residents had come up with the idea of starting a music festival due to the decline of available music venues in the area. Ideas snowballed, more meetings were arranged and initial thoughts grew into a full weekend of creative arts celebrations preceded by several months’ worth of fundraising activities and pre-festival events. Whilst music remained at the heart of Stonefest, the festival calendar also included quiz nights, art exhibitions and, of course, the Verse Come, Verse Served poetry evenings.

Festival organiser, Eve, decided early on that a spoken word event would be a welcome addition to the festival. Our initial chat took place on a cold winter evening and started off as nothing more than ‘let’s have a poetry night’. After that we met and exchanged emails right up to the day of the event –communication is key! We agreed a date and time and Eve found and contacted the venue. When organising an event at a festival you are part of a team so it is best to use people strengths rather than going it alone. Eve has a background in art and design, therefore it made sense for her to design the event posters, which were created from information provided by the artists. Despite never having organised an open mic night, I do have experience in events organising and regularly attend poetry evenings. My role was to plan out how the evening would go, keep performers up-to-date with the plans and promotional material, answer questions and publicise the events at every available opportunity. You can plan the best event in the world but if no one knows it is taking place it won’t work! Local community groups were emailed, information was shared on social media, posters were placed around the local area and larger writing organisations helped to spread the word to their members.

On the morning of both events (Verse Come Verse Served ran as a pre-festival event and again as part of the main festival), the open mic line-up changed considerably throughout the day as people who had intended to come realised they could no longer make it and others made last-minute decisions to overcome nerves and be part of it. –These sorts of changes are a common occurrence when organising any creative event, especially a free one where people don’t have to commit to attending in advance.

Now back to the task at hand, giving everyone a good time. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, commitment and enthusiasm (and probably a bit of luck!), the event was well attended and the ‘open mic’ers added to the variety and high standard we had hoped to achieve. The venue, Chariots Bar and the friendly nature of the performers was the perfect recipe for a relaxed atmosphere. We had purposely created time during the interval for discussions and network opportunities and all attendees made the most of this.

It would be awkward for me at this point to review my own events! Therefore, I will just say that I was thrilled with all the positive feedback and thoroughly enjoyed all of the performances. A big thank you to all those who supported the event and to our awesome headliners and open mic’ers.

It was also great to hear that, as the festival organiser, Eve was also thrilled with how the two events went this year, stating that ‘it really added another depth to our festival, offering visitors a chance to join in if they’d wished to. For me that is what Stonefest is all about.’

Stonefest are always in need of volunteers to keep the festival running as smoothly as possible, as well as help with the planning and running of pre-festival events and fundraisers. If anyone would like to register their interest for future Stonefest events or have an art form they would like to express then email: stonefestofficial@gmail.com

(Pictured: Annabel Peet, Adam Smith, Emilie Lauren Jones, Andrea Mbarushimana)

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