What does that mean? Well, it means there is a run of great events coming up in the next few weeks. Just look at some of the fun and unique events on the horizon: The Vermont Life Wine & Harvest Festival; The Readsboro Arts Festival; The Independent Television and Film Festival; The Best Dam Walk; Oktoberfest; and The Gilfeather Turnip Festival. These are but a few of the countless events in and around the Deerfield Valley.
The great thing about most of them is the local connection. Many of them are home grown, raised, and owned. That’s a good thing. The more local ownership the community can take of an event, the more likely it is to stay in the area. But of course they need support; all of them.
Local support is important to any event. No, we don’t expect everyone in the valley to go to every event. That just doesn’t make sense. But just remember that most events are run by volunteers who tend to be friends and neighbors. Don’t they deserve some support? Events have come and gone, but we really like the events coming up here in the next month, and we know they need support from both locals and visitors to be successful.
But they also need more than just support at the ticket window or along the street to be successful. They all need marketing and logistical support, and that’s where the rub often comes in with a volunteer-organized event. Many of them need professional help, and organizers don’t always know where to turn.
How about some coordinating staff to help all of the region’s events on a year-round basis, specifically with marketing and organizing? There could be a way to do it staring us in the face.
Currently, there is another round of post-Irene long-term planning going on. One of the interesting things about this current effort, led by the Vermont Downtown Action Team and Arnett Muldrow and Associates, is the emphasis on marketing.
With all the planning and long-range visioning going on, isn’t it time to take seriously the business of fun? As in marketing the events we have here in the valley. Not just in Wilmington or Dover, but from Readsboro to Wardsboro and Marlboro to Searsburg.
The chamber of commerce fills some of this role, but currently has its limits, both in terms of manpower and mission. What is really needed is a dedicated marketing and events staff that can be made available to any group wishing to put on a broad-based event in the valley.
Think about it. Volunteer organizations from Readsboro to Wardsboro and everywhere in between could have professional marketing services available for their individual events. Also, that staff could provide coordinated marketing, making sure messages were consistent. It could also have a ready list of vendors for everything from tents and chairs to porta-potties and fried pickles. In short, one place to go for event-planning needs.
Coordinated marketing is something that the valley really doesn’t do a good job at, and is something that we have to get better at. Perhaps the chamber of commerce is the right vehicle to set this up through, perhaps, a rejuvenated bitown effort that could pull this together. The entity that oversees this venture doesn’t matter as much as the venture itself.
The opportunity is there, right now. We need to move from planning to action on coordinated event marketing sooner rather than later.