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  • Writer's pictureCAFE

Event ideas in the era of social distancing

Your organization hopes the show will go on. You would like to bring something fun to the community but worried that your organization will not have the time, financial means, or human resources to produce an event that will measure up to last year. Perhaps you are worried that hosting an event to the same magnitude may be out of reach financially for members of your community, they simply do not have the rainy day fund or summer fun fund that they have been contributing to this year. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help scale back your event and still have fun.

*The following are event ideas that your organization may want to consider when public gatherings can be hosted again. We don't know when that will be, but it doesn't hurt to think about what events small and large will look like in the future. Before moving forward with any of the following event ideas ensure you are doing your due diligence to ensure the health and safety of your guests, volunteers, vendors, and staff.

#1 Showcase Local Entertainment

You may not have the resources to book large acts but that doesn’t mean that the music needs to stop. Think about what kind of talent you have locally. Invite a select few to entertain your crowd. More than ever, people are looking to support local, and you can too.

Host a fun talent competition for your guests to enjoy as the musical acts are vying for the opportunity to open for your weekend headliner at next year’s fair. Be creative with your table of judges – local mayor, long time sponsor, or choose someone from the audience. What a great way to get locals involved and excited!

#2 We ART in this together

The creative community may have not had much opportunity to share their work with the community during the pandemic, so invite them to emerge from their studios and create something truly special for the community.

Local artists exhibit entries in your fair and display their creations in vendor booths each year. Why not have them come together and work on a live art piece during your event? The community would have the opportunity to view the piece as it is created and even seek inspiration for their own projects.

The piece could later be displayed on the grounds, donated to a local community centre, auctioned off, or displayed elsewhere in the community.

#3 Focus on your agricultural roots

Due to physical distancing measures, you may need to find a way to adjust your agricultural awareness booth or building. Why not organize for materials to be printed on large poster boards and create an agriculture awareness exhibit? This approach may not be as interactive as it once was, but it will reduce the need for volunteer animation and decrease the high-interaction touch points that are more risky this year.

Organize material kits for families to bring home which could include activity sheets, colouring pages, etc. Afraid your guests will miss seeing live demonstrations due to smaller crowd allowances? Why not assemble something like a seed growing kit for young people to take home with them to later join in on a virtual demonstration. Offering a virtual demonstration after your event could mean that young people in your community could plant seeds at the same time. This type of activity would give young people a project to monitor from home and share their experiences online.

Check out the Seed Survivor by Nutrien website to see the many resources they have prepared to teach children about growing healthy plants. Contact the Seed Survivor program to see about ordering Seed Survivor cups for your event.

#4 Food Truck Frenzy

Thinking the community may go into a fair food withdrawal?

Reach out to your food vendors and organize a Food Truck Frenzy weekend! You might be able to reinvent your fairgrounds by extending a food court to accommodate drive-in style pick up.

Organize the food trucks in such a way that physical distancing is met. Ensure that all vendors are following safe food handling practices. Ask diners to remain in their vehicles as they wait for food to be prepared and delivered drive-in style.

The Alameda County Fair has been working on a similar idea. They recently launched “Fair Food Friday” offering weekly takeout meals. Their onsite catering team crafts up a new menu each week, collects orders online, and prepares everything for curbside pick-up.

#5 Fun under the stars

Looking for a fun event that will keep spectators distanced? Add some sparkle to the evening sky. As long as you don’t have a fire ban in place why not offer a fun evening of fireworks? Let your community members decide how they would like to enjoy the fireworks – from the comfort of their own home, backyard, or by visiting your exhibition grounds.

Link up with a radio station in your community to offer a fun playlist and a message from your organization that folks at home can listen to.

Run a social media competition to find the best firework photo and caption and add a fun exhibition prize pack to be redeemed at next year’s event.

#6 Bring back the days of drive-in movies

Have you ever wanted to bring a new entertainment offering to your fairgrounds? Why not host a drive-in movie? Families are sure to exchange their couches for a vehicle filled with blankets, pillows, and good movie snacks under the stars. While you may not be able to offer new movie releases, it doesn’t hurt to take a step back in time and share the classics. Take advantage of the polling feature on your Facebook page so your community can have their say on what movie is shown first.

Several drive-in theatres in British Columbia are preparing for what they are calling “the year of the drive-in” in a recent CBC article. In the article, drive-in theatre owners speak about adapting business practices to ensure social distancing measures are followed such as ensuring members of the same household stay together, offering only one movie per night, leaving a good amount of space between vehicles, online ticket sales, and delivering concession snacks to vehicles.

Level up the fun by creating a theme night that can be related to the movie you are showing. Ask moviegoers to dress up and join in on the fun.

Looking to amp up the fun even more? Add a trivia component before the show starts. A platform like Kahoot! will take the pressure off of the quizmaster. Display your Kahoot! quiz on the big screen and let the family friendly competition begin! Participants can access the quiz using the Kahoot! app or website, all you need to do is share the game pin.

These are just a few ideas we’ve seen. But what have you seen? What are you thinking about? Share your ideas with us. What creative approaches will you take this year to scale back your event?

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