Fairs and Festivals
Each year fairs and festivals spend an enormous amount of time, money, and energy bringing quality entertainers to their grounds for their customers. Make sure that your fair experiences maximum success by attending to details (most of them small and inexpensive).
G. L. Berg Entertainment, Performing Artists & Speakers has assisted fairs and festivals in presenting thousands of outdoor stage shows over the past 20 years. The following are helpful tips we collected from fair and festival board members, audiences, sponsors, entertainers, and our own staff. If you follow these tips, you are very likely to have a more successful and better-attended event for years to come.
32 Tips for the Stage, Acts, Promotions, and Audience
- Locate your stage by food and beverage vendors.
- Face your stage either north or south so audiences and acts don’t need to look into the sun.
- Free stages under large tents work much better than those where the audience isn’t under cover.
- Stage size should be at least 24′ wide and 20′ deep and 3′ high.
- Don’t forget to have ample power at the back of the stage.
- Have an attractive back wall or backdrop on your stage.
- If you are going to run events later in the evening on your stage, make sure there is at least some basic flood lighting.
- Keep the stage as far away as possible from loud noise generators, demo derby, tractor pulls, the midway, etc.
- Make sure you have security nearby your stage if needed. No one needs a drunk person wandering up on stage.
- Always have a rain site if your venue is not covered.
- Make sure the acts and their gear can get to the stage and park nearby.
- Make sure your free stage area is in a good place and not just plunked down in a field in the middle of nowhere. Make it inviting.
- Constant P.A. announcements on most fairgrounds are more annoying than helpful.
- Have attractive signs on or near the stage that tell customers who is performing and when. Your guests will greatly appreciate this information.
- Make sure everyone entering the fairgrounds gets a program of events for the day. The schedule for acts should be included so people can plan their day.
- If you are having an amateur talent contest, use a professional act as an emcee and as a fill between acts. It makes the event much better for all in attendance.
- Have a dressing room or trailer near the stage for acts to use to change clothes, get out of the heat, warm up and get ready for the show.
- You usually get what you pay for with entertainment on free stages. Just because an act is free or cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth watching.
- Remember to pay attention to sound and light requirements. Don’t assume one act will be providing sound for another act.
- No shows (unless it is just one daily main show) should go longer than 30-40 minutes. There is too much to do on the grounds.
- Never have acts set their own show times.
- Be prepared to provide a table, a couple of chairs, or other simple items that may be needed by an act from time to time.
- Always leave at least 30 minutes between acts on the stage to allow for set-up, tear-down, and audience movement.
- Name your stage The Baldwin Park Plaza Stage, The Deck… names like these help build audiences over time.
- Have an emcee introduce shows, thank sponsors, and make announcements.
- Don’t schedule other well-attended events on top of your free stage shows.
- Develop a good programming plan and stick with it. Use a good schedule, good acts, and good promotion.
- Let your audience know what kind of an act it is: magician, juggler, ventriloquist, hypnotist, musical act, comedian…
- Be sure to spell the entertainer’s name correctly.
- Let acts know of other events you might like them to mention and promote while they are on stage.
- Most acts will gladly do radio and television spots before and during their stay at your event. Take advantage of this as it is free, successful marketing.
- Have plenty of attractive, comfortable seating.
An attractive tent draws you in to a nice seating area where there is a great looking stage with an attractively painted back wall where there is background music playing and the sign tells me an interesting-sounding act is starting their show in five minutes so I have time to walk over and buy a corndog and get ready to sit on some nice benches out of the sun and heat and watch some great entertainment that I cannot see anywhere else. This is what many events offer their customers.
Or, picture this:
You sit and bake in the sun on uncomfortable seats in a noisy area that is dirty and loud and has no food or restrooms nearby and you stare into the sun at an ugly stage and watch bad entertainment that is starting late and going too long. Believe it or not, this, too, is what a lot of outdoor events offer their customers.
Attention to details makes the biggest difference in successful outdoor free stage shows. If you would like to visit about your stage set-up, schedule, programming, marketing activities, or anything else related to promoting free stage entertainment, please give us a call. It’s time to make your fair entertainment GREAT!