Archive for Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sampler Festival could spark regional event

May 17, 2011

After helping organize the Kansas Sampler Festival’s successful two-year run in Leavenworth, one local organizer is thinking about how to carry on the momentum.

The festival May 7 and 8 drew more than 7,500 people to Leavenworth’s Ray Miller Park to sample what was available in communities throughout Kansas. Both years, Tonganoxie’s Keyta Kelly served as festival director with a big assist from Patty Haag, city of Tonganoxie utilities billing clerk.

Kelly said they learned much from the experience, and the knowledge could be applied to efforts to market Tonganoxie.

“I think we learned a lot about marketing, because we were clueless,” she said. “None of us were in that business.

“We learned what was effective, and what was not.”

From asking people at the festival how they learned of it, the organizers found billboards worked, Kelly said. They also learned some smaller marketing tools were also quite effective. One particularly effective tool was table tents, which are folded pop-ups at restaurants that get the attention of diners.

Kelly and Haag, who served as volunteer coordinators for this year’s festival, said they and other organizers got to know people experienced in putting together festivals.

“It’s always invaluable to know some other community has done a festival with something you might want to try,” she said. “Did this work or not work? It’s always easier than reinventing the wheel.”

The Sampler Festival was successful because of a large number of volunteers. Kelly said.

“You do know which volunteers you can count on to carry through with what they say,” she said.

Haag, who is also on the city's Retail/Commercial Development Committee, said she would apply the marketing lessons and volunteer contacts she developed to that committee and others she may serve on for the city.

But Kelly said she and others were thinking of somehow keeping the momentum built in the past two years going.

“It hasn’t developed yet,” she said. “It’s in the back of people’s minds. We certainly don’t want to do anything that would compete with the Sampler Festival.”

Speaking for herself, Kelly said she would like to see something modeled off the Sampler Festival but kept to a regional focus.

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