February 20, 2017

As one of the nation’s premier event producers, the CSM Production team spends countless hours creating memorable, best-in-class event experiences for its clients. Our goal is to take you behind the scenes to see what goes in to the production of an event. While this is just a snapshot of a day or several days, it’s a sense of who we are and why CSM prides itself not only on its people but the quality of work we deliver.

Showcasing the two-day execution of the annual Belk Bowl FanFest and concert, Brad Smith takes us through his experience as the lead producer for the highly-anticipated fan festival in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Wednesday, Dec. 28

6:30 a.m.

Get out of bed and get ready to head towards Bank of America Stadium.

7:45 a.m.

On my way towards uptown, I get a call from the portable restroom rental company asking where to drop the restroom units.  I let him know that he might want to wait on putting out any restrooms since the streets aren’t closed yet.  That could be a pretty nasty mess.

8 a.m.

Arrive uptown and park in anticipation of the street closures for the festival footprint. 

8:30 a.m.

The “production cavalry” arrives to BB&T Ballpark to begin load in of all production needs for the Tim McGraw stage that was built the night prior in center field.

9 a.m.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) officially closes the streets for the festival footprint.  Belk Bowl FanFest load in can begin.

9:30 a.m.

Early vendor load in begins along Mint Street near Bank of America Stadium as does the side stage at Mint St. and the two 16’x9’ video structures at Mint Street and the other at Romare Bearden Park.

10:15 a.m.

Generators for the FanFest get dropped off at Mint Street.



12:45 p.m.

Walk back to the site to see how much progress has been made with vendor load in. Everything seems to be clipping along.

2:30 p.m.

The LED screen structures are starting to take shape and the LED video tiles are beginning to be flown.

4:30 p.m.

A few of us break off to begin running the fiber optic cable from BB&T Ballpark to the two video screens. One is at Romare Bearden Park and the other is all the way over at Bank of America Stadium. Approximately 3000 feet of cable needs to be run.

5 p.m.

We wonder why we decide to run the fiber across the streets during rush hour!  We carry on despite our added degree of difficulty.

6 p.m.

Fiber has been connected to both remote locations and of course, traffic has died down now.

6:10 p.m.

I walk from the FanFest location on Mint Street over to Romare Bearden Park to check in and then head over to the Tim McGraw stage in the BB&T Ballpark. The guys have made some headway but still have a few things to finish up and tech out.  Looks like maybe two more hours of plugging, programing and testing to go.

8:10 p.m.

After a few minor snags and delays, it looks like we will be done in about two more hours.

10 p.m.

Everything is ready for the Tim McGraw load in tomorrow morning. Some extra prep had to be made to prevent any water damage to the gear as we have showers expected overnight.  Time to head home and get some sleep.


Thursday, Dec 29

3:31 a.m.

My dog is petrified of rain. It is raining. My dog makes sure that I am aware of the changing weather conditions. I try to go back to sleep.

5:15 a.m.

My wake-up alarm rings. Time to get back at it.

6 a.m.

Arrive on site just as the rain stops. Lucky for us, it only rained while we weren’t on site.

6:10 a.m.

Finish up a quick meeting with the crew before we all go our separate ways.

6:13 a.m.

I walk FanFest to make sure there are no issues with any of the vendors loading in. 

6:20 a.m.

I notice that one of our Eazy-Up tents that is above the tech equipment is full of water. I painstakingly dump the water off the tent so that I do not get doused. And of course, I step in a puddle.

6:21 a.m.

I have a wet right shoe and sock.  Load in of vendors and displays continue.

7 a.m.

Tim McGraw’s crew begins load in with our production staff at the main stage at BB&T Ballpark.

7:15 a.m.

With things underway at the ballpark, I make my way back to FanFest after a quick check in at Romare Bearden Park.

9 a.m.

FanFest is starting to fill in with all the assorted vendors, displays and food trucks.

10 a.m.

I walk back to BB&T Ballpark from FanFest for a quick meeting with Tim McGraw’s security lead, CMPD, FBI, Show Pros and Charlotte Fire Department (CFD).

10:13 a.m.

During the meeting, I get an e-mail request to add some gear to the tent order of one of our displays. The Belk Bowl FanFest is open in 47 minutes; better hurry.

10:14 a.m.

The tent rental company is unable to get the needed gear from their shop to the event in time. So, we send a couple of our guys there to pick it up.

11 a.m.

Belk Bowl FanFest opens and the added gear is about to arrive on site.

11:15 a.m.

I meet with radio personality and emcee for the side stage at FanFest, Captain Jim.  We go over his duties and key talking points.

11:25 a.m.

Get the Carolina Panthers’ Pep Squad ready to go on stage, and then cue Capt. Jim to start doing his thing.

11:35 a.m.

I get a call that CFD is concerned that there are no trash receptacles out yet at FanFest. Thousands of people with food and beverage and no place to dispose of the trash is big problem. After a quick chat with the fire chief in mobile command, I walk the footprint while calling my contact for the city to relay the news. He immediately got things rectified and a potentially big mess was avoided.

12:15 p.m.

The FanFest is in full swing.  People are starting to fill in and walk thru all the displays while the band Blue Honey is performing on the FanFest stage.

1:14 p.m.

While I am at FanFest, I get a call from our crew at BB&T Ballpark that the 40-foot wide backdrop banner has been blown off the stage. I quickly make my way back up to the ballpark.

1:20 p.m.

I make it up to the ballpark to see if it is possible to get the banner back up.  Unfortunately, due to the wind, it cannot be safely rehung.  After watching the wind a bit longer, the decision is made to drop the speaker scrim banners as well.

1:30 p.m.

Blue Honey finishes their set on the FanFest stage and the crew begins the set change over to Michael Cosner, who will be playing later in the day.

2 p.m.

Tim McGraw is scheduled to be on stage in center field at BB&T Ballpark.

2:15 p.m.

Tim McGraw is finally on stage and begins playing his hits to the fans. The video feed of his show is displayed on the two LED screens that we provided at Romare Bearden Park and at the FanFest location near Bank of America Stadium.

3:30 p.m.

Tim McGraw finishes his show and Michael Cosner begins his set at the FanFest stage.

4:15 p.m.

FanFest is closed and fans are now entering the stadium for the Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas game.

5:15 p.m.

Tear down is underway and picking up pace as the streets begin to thin out and clear room for all our road cases, fork lifts and trucks to maneuver.

5:30 p.m.

Kick off! The Belk Bowl is officially underway.

6 p.m.

A couple of us start collecting all fiber optic cable that we had woven through uptown the day before.

6:18 p.m.

I play the role of first responder after Brandy trips on the sidewalk near me.  At least I think her name was Brandy. That was what was written on the side of her solo cup. After getting her upright, untangling her sunglasses from her hair and giving her a few tissues for her badly bloodied nose, she could proceed under her own power … presumably to the game.

9 p.m.

Our trucks and trailers are beginning to fill up.  As they do, they head back to the shop one by one.

9:45 p.m.

Strike complete! It is time to head home. I need to get some rest before I head to the mountains for some snow tubing with the family tomorrow.

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Belk, Belk Bowl, FanFest, Tim McGraw, concert, festival, day in the life, charlotte, CSM Production