31st Annual Festival in the Pines
Posted: September 6, 2013
When I purchased the Festival in the Pines 16 years ago with two other partners, I knew that it was a risky venture. Whenever an annual outdoor event is operated as a business, there is bound to be some downside. As the sole owner of the business for the past 11 years, there is even more risk - because if the weather doesn't cooperate, then the business model becomes irrelevant.
This past year's Festival in the Pines, which took place August 24-25, was not a complete failure. About 8,000 people attended rather than the 13,000-15,000 that normally attend. Although there were rain showers on Saturday morning, the first-day attendance was relatively good considering there were other events taking place in the Chippewa Valley that same day.
However, when Sunday's weather forecast called for a heat advisory at 12pm, it took a big hit on attendance. Overall, the number of attendees on Sunday was about 3,000 people. Even though many of my friends tried to tell me that it was comfortable in the shade on Sunday, I knew that many of the regular festival-goers would probably stay inside and not try to battle the extreme heat. Frankly, I can't blame them.
Now that the 31st Annual Festival in the Pines is over, I am committed to soliciting input how to make the event more attractive to more people. I know there are many shoppers each year who look forward to visiting the nearly 200 arts/crafts exhibitors, eating great food from area vendors and taking part in the various family-oriented entertainment. But I am convinced that I need to find a unique attraction to help draw more people to the annual festival.
I received many compliments on how the festival was operated this year. But, like any other business that is attended by the paying public, I also received negative comments, constructive criticism and complaints. I welcome all of the input so that the 32nd Annual Festival in the Pines can continue to be the showcase event for families and shoppers for years to come.
If you have any thoughts, I appreciate your feedback. For the first time in 15 years, I won't be paying myself anything for managing the Festival in the Pines. Obviously, I'm disappointed. But that's why I'm reminded why I don't quit my day job.