Words of Wisdom
There's nothing more disheartening than going to immense time and effort organising a Fete, only to find a couple of simple mistakes have made a negative impact on attendance and sales. Here are a few factors we have observed over the years, that may reduce the crowd present on the day, and the overall success of the event:
Lack of effort, Enthusiasm and Support
You only get out what you put in. The greater the effort, enthusiasm, and time invested by the organising committee, the greater the probability the event will be a success. Unfortunately, an able and willing Fete Committee cannot run the entire event. Stall Coordinators and volunteers are needed, and plenty of them. If you are finding support, volunteers, and resources hard to come by - consider scaling the event down to a more manageable Friday Night Carnival or Friday Night Funfest
Hold the Fete on the same day, or day after, another fete in your area, and sponsorship, donations and the general public's expenditure will be shared between the two events. "Take on" a large established fete, and you may come off second best!
Children love amusement rides, though all the attractions in the world won't pull a crowd, as it's the parents that make the final decision as to whether the family attends on the day. Mums and Dads love the Displays, Entertainment, Activities, Stalls, Food and Drinks. Give them what they want, and they'll come back for more every time.
Commit the students to attend by any means possible. Involve the children in performances, displays, activities and class stalls. By committing the children to come along o the day, you will find their parents won't be too far behind.
Contrary to what most people believe, many Fetes see an increase is sales during wet weather. Whilst it's disappointing for the organisers that the day is not perfect, the general public will still support, attend and spend.
On the other hand, no family wants to spend their afternoon standing in the middle of oval during a scorching hot summer day. People will come early, though soon leave for the comfort of the home swimming pool! Twilight Fetes are often preferred for Fetes held from mid October onwards.
Creating the carnival-type atmosphere is the key, so don't spread the fete out to much. Design the layout in a tight manner, without having the public "standing on each other's toes". Keep the entertainment flowing with heaps of music, performances and activities.
Maintaining an up-to-date Fete File is vital. Otherwise, how will you know how many sausages, bread rolls, and Show Bags to order next time? A properly documented record of everything ordered and total number sold, improves efficiency and minimises wastage.
Fete Convenors need to make certain decisions without running past the rest of the committee. Otherwise, decision-making gets bogged down as committee members find it hard to agree on some issues. If you think it's the best decision, go with it!
Fete Survival Tips
When your next fete comes around, check out our light-hearted guide, on how not to land the worst jobs but still appearing to be helpful.
Position Vacant - Fete Convenor
An eerie silence has descended over the school grounds. The car park is empty; all mobile phones are turned off; the P&C Committee is in hiding; parents wearing dark sunglasses briskly drop their children at class, before returning to the "safety" of their homes....someone has mentioned the word Fete and the principal is looking for a convenor!
Ideally, Fete Convenors should have an extensive list of tertiary qualifications including Degrees in Event Management (Co-ordinating the stalls, entertainment, stage & performances), Industrial Relations (settling Stall Holder disputes & neighbour complaints), Marketing (brochures, posters, sponsorship, donations), Town Planning (layout, parking, access, amenities), and Structural/Civil Engineering (Workplace Health and Safety Inspections, Audits etc).
If you do not meet these requirements, then don't worry - no one else does either, so the job is there for the taking. Once the role of Fete Convenor has been accepted, it's yours for life. This is until either your youngest child has left the school or a special Leave of Absence is granted for extenuating circumstances, such as attending a family reunion in Siberia. We believe Qantas schedules additional overseas flights during September, for ex-fete convenors fleeing the country during the busy Spring Fair season!
Juggling full-time work with fete convening is no easy task, so ensure three weeks of annual leave is set aside each year for the big event. Your services will be required 24/7 during the week that precedes the fete. Another two weeks "R and R" is usually needed immediately after the fete - just to recover!
The unveiling of the Fete Volunteer Sign-On Board, can be just as frantic as opening the doors of the Boxing Day Sales, as parents battle to ensure they are not left with the dubious task...of making Fairy Floss.
Whilst Fairy Floss is still one of the most profitable Stalls at fetes, it's also the most loathed to run. Fairy Floss sticks to everything - your hands - your arms - your clothing - your face. Within a few hours, a novice Fairy Floss operator can start to resemble a giant pink cocoon.
Sweets & Lollies
Without doubt, the most coveted Stall of all, is "Sweets and Lollies", as they are the first to sell out. This leaves you with the rest of the event to sit back and enjoy the day's festivities.
Talk your mother-in-law into baking a cake. You get to contribute with a minimal amount of effort, plus there's no great embarrassment if her Date Loaf ends up on the "leftovers" table, at the end of the Fete.
Ride Armbands are great value. They cost far less than any babysitter would charge for a few hours of freedom, plus the children will come home that exhausted, they'll be in bed before the evening news.
Before joining your children on one of the wild and spectacular fairground attractions, study the ride carefully. Check out the faces on the parents before & after. Has their expression changed from a look of anticipation and excitement - to one of despair, anguish and suffering? If so, this is a sure indication that parent's midday meal of chicken Kebabs, rice and Banana Fritters, is doing it's best to defy the laws of gravity.
Read the Thrill Ride signs carefully. Beware of any notice that gives the slightest hint that the attraction could be a real stomach-churner, such as:
This ride is suitable for the thrill-seeking adults only - or those parents who will do anything for their kids.
Need we say more?
Accountants and Book Keepers are prize recruits for every convenor, as they can be entrusted with managing the Tally Room throughout the entire event. However, they are also without doubt the unsung heroes of every fete.
As the last of the Stalls have been packed away, and while the rest of the volunteers wine and dine in the beer garden, celebrating the fruits of their labour. Accountants will be locked away in the main office balancing the books - sustained by the odd serving of anzac biscuits, pikelets, or anything else that's thin enough to slide under the door.