Ask the Experts: How to Effectively Execute a Street Festival

May 28, 2014

Planning an effective and popular street festival is an art; one that Jacqueline Garfarar has perfected over the past 16 years.

Since 1998, Gafrarar has been responsible for managing and executing Coca-Cola Speed Street presented by Chevrolet. The three-day consumer street festival requires months of planning and preparation to prepare for the 400,000 attendees that descend upon Uptown Charlotte for live music, driver appearances, sponsor activations and more. The Concord, N.C.-native shares her top five tips to make a street festival a success:

Inspire confidence within the city.

Getting the right city members on your team, including permitting officials, the fire department, utilities, medics, the police department, public transportation and city services, is critical. If they are willing to buy into the idea and support your efforts wholeheartedly, you have laid the groundwork for success. 

Recruit the right team.

One person can’t produce a street festival so it’s important to build a team with the right people in the right positions. There needs to be a point person for each “piece of the pie” including operations and logistics, beverage operations, food and merchandise vendor coordination, public relations and sponsorship sales so nothing falls through the cracks.

Freshen it up.

Keeping the festival new and fresh each year is critical to engage both new and loyal fans. We make a huge effort at Coca-Cola Speed Street presented by Chevrolet to enlist new corporate partners and bands each year so no two festivals are exactly alike.

Establish a built-in crowd.

Creating a festival in a field is going to be much more difficult to promote than one in the middle of a city. By creating a footprint where the audience already exists, it is easier to pique their interest and get them involved in your festivities.

Engage, engage, engage.

After all the hard work you’ve done to produce the festival, the most important thing is creating a fan base that loves your event. Create “wow moments” throughout the day that engage fans and encourage them to stick around for the next big thing. For example, at Coca-Cola Speed Street presented by Chevrolet, we encourage our partners to create interactive displays for the daytime crowd. Then at night, we wow them with a full lineup of live music.

To see Gafrarar in action, follow the 600 Festival Association on Facebook and Twitter @600Festival.

About the Expert: Jacqueline Gafrarar currently serves as the general manager of the 600 Festival Association, overseeing the development and management of each of the organization’s May events. She has been a valued member of JHE’s team for more than 16 years, most recently serving as vice president of special events. The Concord, N.C.-native has been an instrumental leader in the planning and execution of 600 Festival events including Coca-Cola Speed Street presented by Chevrolet since 1998, one year after JHE assumed the role of promoter and producer of events. 

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Coca-Cola Speed Street presented by Chevrolet, Speed Street, 600 Festival Association, Jacqueline Gafrarar
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