Duluth – Here We Come!
Today I am on my way to Duluth for an eventful few days focused on preparing for and being outdoors. This afternoon I am in meetings for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s Shoot for Fun, a trap shooting event on Saturday, September 10benefiting adaptive sports and recreation programs in the Duluth area.
I love the gorgeous setting where Shoot for Fun takes place – Old Vermilion Trail Hunting Preserve. And, the community support and energy around this event are incredible. Shoot for Fun brings out 450 shooters, 45 local businesses that participate as sponsors, and 100 volunteers.
Tomorrow my husband Steve and several of our running friends will join me in Duluth as we prepare to run the 40th annual Grandma’s Marathon on Saturday. There are more than 8,500 participants scheduled to run the 26.2 miles. Talk about a large outdoor event!
This month’s newsletter is devoted to taking events outdoors.
Tips for Successfully Taking It Outdoors
Without a doubt, outdoor events come with a whole host of special considerations. However, if you do your homework, the benefits can definitely outweigh the challenges. Many of our community’s most impactful, beloved, and successful events are out in the elements. Here are some things to consider when working in the great outdoors:
- Pick a traditionally weather-friendly date.There is no such thing as a consistently weather-perfect day of the year, but it pays to research how weather has historically trended during specific weeks and days. In 2013, Courage Kenny’s Shoot for Fun was moved from spring to early September when there were still several inches of snow on the ground in mid-April. Everyone loves the permanent move to early fall!
- Learn from your vendors. Carefully select your vendors for needs such as tenting, tables and chairs, porta-potties, and audiovisual. Select vendors who not only have competitive pricing, but who are also committed to being a great partner. You can learn a lot from your vendors who do these events all the time – everything from help in creating your site map to troubleshooting worst-case scenarios.
- Take field trips. Visit other outdoor events to get ideas for logistics such as layout, traffic flow, signage, and options for staging and tenting. You can also scope out possible food vendors, activities, and entertainment options. Take lots of photos!
- Make friends with your local government contacts. Almost every outdoor event requires permits that need to be pulled through the city or county, and many events require multiple permits. Local law enforcement may be needed to help with directing traffic, road closures, and ensuring public safety. Our main event contact at the City of Saint Paul has been a great resource in making sure we have all of our bases covered for a new event we are working on, Wilder Block Party 2016 on Saturday, September 17.
- Prepare for the worst. No one likes to think about worst case scenarios, but responsible outdoor event planning requires a carefully and thoroughly documented emergency contingency plan. For the Wilder Block Party we are using the City of Saint Paul’s Emergency Action Planning Guide to outline plans for potential emergencies including severe weather, medical, security, and lost children.
- Love your neighbors! Be proactive in letting residents and businesses in the neighborhood know when your event is taking place and the specifics of what will be going on. And, invite your neighbors to attend! Outdoor events often cause inconveniences in terms of traffic flow and/or noise. Make your neighbors feel part of what is going on, and some of them may even become your best promoters!
Target Field: A Great Indoor Outdoor Venue
Tuesday of this week emcee Don Shelby and TC Bear helped Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute raise money for Courage Kenny Kids at the third annual Celebration of Courage event at Target Field. The Ann Plans team loves working in this venue which provides a fun and casual setting by the very nature of guests “coming out to the ballpark.” While the Celebration of Courage lunch and program take place inside in the Legends Club, guests have the opportunity to go out into the stands for photos and to enjoy the views. And, we hand out Cracker Jacks as a departing gift!
Opening Your Doors
While most events our team works on are fundraising in nature, we also help clients with events where the primary focus is opening their doors and inviting clients, partners, and the neighbors to come have fun and celebrate. If your organization doesn’t have an open house or another community engagement event in the mix, consider hosting one – whether it is outdoors like the Wilder Block Party or something much simpler executed indoors. NuWay House hosts an annual picnic on the grounds of one of their properties where everyone is welcome. We are excited to be partnering with NuWay on their Saturday, September 10 picnic with a special focus this year on “celebrating 50 years in the heart of the recovery community.”
The Ann Plans team wishes you a fun summer of events – whether in your backyard, at the cabin, or enjoying many of Minnesota’s outdoor festivals and athletic events.