Barricades rented in Chicago, IL

From carnivals to art festivals to a medieval renaissance fair, few activities engage a community more than a well-planned outdoor activity.  However, planning and executing a great event is a lot of work and requires a skilled—and flexible—team.  To help “grease the skids” on getting your first outdoor event together, we’ve assembled some top tips for preparing and launching your first outdoor event.

Choose Your Venue

A critical decision which happens early on in the planning process, choose a venue that has ample space to transform into your vision, but also adequate parking and great exposure to passerby traffic.  Having great visibility from major thoroughfares will increase the attendance with walk-ins without the added expense of a large marketing budget.

Get Permits

Be sure to secure the right permits from your local government, and inquire about security standards, even engage the local police department to learn how they can help ensure a safe environment outside and inside your event.  Depending on the scale of your event and policies of your local police department, there might be additional expenses to bring in off-duty officers for patrol.

Check the Utilities

You’ll likely need electricity for your event but the question will be how much: just a simple PA system for announcements and background music is very different than setting up a band stage with lights or running concessions and carnival rides.  If the venue doesn’t have enough service on-site, budget for renting commercial generators.  Ensure you have enough lighting if your event extends into after hours.

Plan Your Layout

Now to the fun part: design your event floor plan.  We’ve discussed attendee flow in past posts, so we’ll focus on the big picture—designating areas.  In the case of arts and crafts fairs, designate booths roughly 10×10 squares (or larger) with wide aisles for attendees to move freely in both directions.  Think 20+ feet wide if you have the space.  You may choose to group like vendors together or mix it up for variety throughout.  Plan the load-in and load-out for your vendors so they aren’t hauling equipment on foot for half of a mile—they will thank you.

Event Sanitation

Be sure you have plenty of restroom facilities for guests, including portable potties, hand washing stations, and drinking fountains (or drink vendors).

Safety

Get the right vendors on board with you to support your safe event.  If the local law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to manage security across the full event, hire a private security firm for the duration of the event, and be sure to hire the right temporary fence and crowd control barriers supplier to ensure a smooth set up and tear down.

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