Fete Stalls and Activities
Every Fete Committee has limited resources to work with, so let's save some time and effort by doing some research. What works? What doesn't work? What's available?
Begin by sourcing all available information from other Fetes previously held at the school. Past Convenors tend to going into hiding the second the word fete appears in the school newsletter, though they are without doubt the best place to start. Find out which stalls & activities have been successful in the past.
A Fete/Fundraising File should be kept by all P&C/P&F Committees, and will contain all the facts and figures. Access the P&C/P&F Community Resource File which will include promotional material sent by various suppliers.
Fete Hopping is not spying, it's just the 'sharing of ideas' and everyone does it!! Check out all the fetes in you area. Find out what events are successful and why. Take note of the following:
- Popular Stalls
- Marquee Suppliers
- Community Displays and attractions
If the school you are visiting has a Fete Flyer, it should include a program of entertainment, sponsors & performances. Talk to the Stall holders at these Fetes, & ask them how thing are going; what seems to be selling/working/popular & what isn't.
Stall and Activity Coordinators
Ok, you have selected a date, booked the attractions, come up with a theme, undertaken some research and decided on the Stalls. Now it's time for the Convenors to start delegating. Co-ordinators are now appointed to the various stalls and activities. Each co-ordinator's role is to supervise the operation of their stall or activity, and recruit the necessary volunteers to assist. There are two basic areas to consider:
- Activities include Amusement Rides, Sideshow Games, Face Painting, Crazy Hair, Auctions, Raffles etc along with set up/pack up, signage, Stage and Audio.
- Stalls are the retail aspects of the fete, which deal directly with the public. Typical Stalls include food, drinks, games, plants, Trash & Treasure, Auctions etc.
The allocation of Stalls & Activities to Co-ordinators is one of the most important aspects of a successful school Fete, as it allows the convenors to get on with the overall management of the event & focus on the bigger picture. For school Fetes, a parent representative from each class is the logical choice as a Stall or Activity Co-ordinator. Each Co-ordinator becomes responsible for the planning & operation of their particular stall or activity, & reports directly to the Fete Convenor/s.
Fete organising is all about connections. Committees rejoice at the arrival of talented and useful parents with each year's new enrolments. The most coveted parents are business people (for donations), marketing and promotion experts, event managers, chefs, caterers, restaurant owners, and trades people. Activities should be matched to each person's experience, skills or knowledge. For instance, a parent who manages a Marketing Firm would be ideally suited to the role of Publicity Officer. Likewise, someone skilled in sales would be ideally suited to sourcing donations and sponsorship.
The co-ordinator's job is to monitor the activity throughout the event, providing support and encouragement to the volunteers/helpers.
Each co-ordinator's role should be defined clearly, so they do not "step on someone else's toes". Co-ordinators meddling in each other's activities, is a common complaint heard at many fairs.
Put together a list of all Stalls & Activities, and their associated co-ordinators. Include contact details such as mobile and email. Have all Coordinators and Volunteers "Like" the Fete Facebook page, which is a great form of communication within the event. In this way, the various co-ordinators can interact, gaining support & assistance from one another. Update and distribute the list (via email, Facebook or at meetings) as further sub-committees form, and volunteers are added.
Have Requirement Forms available for each co-ordinator to fill in, advising of their requirements such as tables, chairs, stalls, power etc.
Once you have outlined a rough list of the activities planned for the day, determine what resources will be needed: financial, people, donations, & power. Ensure you have, or can access these resources. There may be up-front expenditure required: is this available? If not, how will you go about raising the funds? By pre-planning your Fete with a list of what is needed & required, any last minute surprises can be avoided.
Ordering consumables such as food can be a tricky task. Ideally, there should be enough perishable food items such as bread, rolls, meat and vegetables to cover the entire Fete, without out having too much left over at the end of the day. Excess cakes, loaves of bread and rolls can be sold off at discounts towards the end of the event along with BBQ items if there seems to be substantial meat leftovers. Some food items such as vegetables can be stored, then used in the Tuck Shop/Canteen.
Quantities required depends on the size of the crowd, which in turn, get's back to the number of students enrolled at the school, demographics, weather, and the amount of advertising/marketing. Estimating consumable requirements should be based on previous Fete records. If this is not available, perhaps contact other Fetes at similar size schools in your area. Fete Committees are well aware of the time and effort that goes into holding such an event, and are normally more than happy to assist with certain sales figures.
As a matter of interest, here's a few interesting Food figures on what is annually sold at a large regular Spring Fair that grosses around $100k:
- 150kgs of Curry
- 210kgs of Hot Chips
- 1,000 sausages
- 65 loaves of sliced bread
- 400 steaks
- 600 meat patties
- 80 dozen bread rolls
- 20 litres of tomato sauce
- 20kgs of chilli con carne
- 105 punnets of strawberries
Each Stall will require equipment: tables, chairs, power etc. Supply each Stall Co-ordinator with a Requirements Form. Request the form be completed and returned asap specifying precisely what they will need. Your Operations Coordinator will put together an overall list of what equipment is requires for the fete. Some items will be hired, others can be sourced from within the school and local community.
The Operations Coordinator will then arrange transport of, then secure and erect all equipment needed for the day; marquees, tables, cold rooms, toilets etc. Other tasks include assembling the stage and arranging power to the appropriate sites. Security and Work Place Health and Safety are issues should be adhered to.
Many local businesses have marquees & Quick Shades available for fetes. Traditional Marquees give the event that carnival feel, though are labor intensive to transport & set up. Schools often bulk purchase their equipment such as Quick Shade stalls, tables & chairs. By making the event a little easier to organise; the lifespan of the Convenors and their helpers is extended.
Unfortunately, it takes more than a Committee to hold a Fete. Volunteers are needed, and lots of them. How do you encourage people to assist? Each Coordinator will be responsible for recruiting & rostering the necessary volunteers, who will assist in the setting up and running their particular stall or activity on the day. Advertise for volunteers/helpers in a Fete section of the school/Fete newsletter or Facebook page, listing a different Stall or Activity each week. Start with your essentials such as BBQ, Drinks, Trash and Treasure, then start to add the extras as time goes by.
Try to divide each job into small manageable tasks, using rosters. Most people will be willing to help out when they know their entire day won't be spent on one particular task such as making Fairy Floss or Face Painting. Floating volunteers are also a bonus. They can assist in stalls during peak periods, or cover for other volunteers who may need to watch a child in a performance or have a break.
Classes can also be given the task of operating some of the activities. This gives the children valuable experience in responsibility and management skills. Colleges often appoint various activities to secondary students as part of their Business Study assessment. Areas that are ideally suited to school courses include:
- Fete Promotion (Marketing)
- Food Catering (Hospitality)
- Ticket Selling/Stalls (Business Management)
- Finance (Accounting/Financial Management)
- Fete Convening (Event Management)
Sign Up Boards
Consider placing a sign-up board (chalk board or white board) located in an area where parents often meet. Include a list of activities where volunteers are required, leaving spaces for sign-ups to give their name, mobile number and email. By allowing parents to make some contribution, albeit a small one, they are satisfied in doing their bit to help out. This also removes the fear of being nominated for a larger task.
Updated sign-up boards can also be placed on the Fete Newsletter. Don't forget the phone! People find it easy to ignore requests for help in the school newsletter, though find it considerably harder when the plea comes direct over the phone. Don't burn out new members of the school community by assigning them with arduous tasks! Ease new volunteers in, skill them up, just as you would a new staff member. This keeps people fresh and willing to assist in future events. Consider a plan of succession. If a Stall or Activity coordinator's children are moving on to high school, appoint an assistant who can take over the role next time around.
When it comes to encouraging parents to volunteer, "guilt" is a very effective tool, so ensure Sign-up boards are available for all to see!