Written by Ken Green
This guide was prepared to assist EDGE&TA branches preparing to host a local, national or regional show. It is not intended as a directive, or to replace any existing policies of the local branches. Hopefully it will help the branches consider things that have been useful at previous shows and events and avoid some of the pitfalls that have also occurred. Safety and fun for both members and spectators should be the first issues of consideration for every event. Close behind these comes determining the overall costs of the event and development of a plan to manage the available resources. A large show takes lots of coordination, teamwork, and money, but can be very rewarding for the host branch long after everyone has returned home. Good planning is the key to a great show.
Adverse Weather: Plan ahead for high winds, rain, mud, etc. and be prepared to assist exhibitors and spectators in the event of adverse weather. Are certain areas prone to flooding? Are canopies secured? Are the parking areas accessible in case of heavy rains? Are shelters available?
Advertise: Ask local media for free advertisement. Solicit sponsors such as local tractor dealers, farm suppliers, radio stations, etc. to help in advertising the event. Prepare a flyer for advertisement in the E&E and GEM magazines. Provide the National Directors with sufficient information that they can also include the event in National correspondence. Provide our National Webmaster the event information for the host branch web page as soon as possible, update as necessary. Send a notice and flyer to all regional or national branch editors and Presidents and ask for their help in advertising and supporting the event.
Budget: Select a show committee; ask for assistance from neighboring branches if needed, develop a budget, listing available resources, expected expenses, expected income, donations, shortfalls, etc. Develop a plan to meet early obligations such as deposits, permits, or fees that may be required in advance. Review the budget often, make adjustments where needed, and fry to stay within available resources.
Bulletin Boards: Consider placing bulletin boards in the exhibit and camping areas. Special notices, show agenda, emergency numbers, etc. will be appreciated.
Buttons, Ribbons, Flyers, and T-shirts: Establish a committee to develop the buttons, ribbons, flyers, T-shirts, etc. These will take several months to decide on the final designs, place the orders and receive the items.
Camping Facilities: Determine what camping facilities will be available at the show site and in the local area. It may be necessary to reserve an entire area or a designated area well in advance of the event. Let the members know what is available, costs, reservation system, etc., in the advertisements, newsletters, and online web page.
Clean Up: Consider having a small clean up crew available as needed during the Show and a larger group to complete the work after the event is closed. Know what the facility requires at the close of the event and plan accordingly. Make a list of volunteers, drivers, equipment, etc. required. Ask the exhibitors for help if needed.
Communications: If possible, establish 2-way communications for key show personnel. A local communications company may provide this service free if they are convinced it is good for business. Mention them in your flyers, post a sign of thanks, mention them to the public, etc. Walkie talkies or cell phones may also be rented to cover the event.
Computer Capability: If possible, provide an on-line telephone link to the internet at the show site. The National may provide a computer for the event. This is very helpful in promoting the use of on-line communications between branches, members and the National. The capability ofe-mail can be demonstrated and used to communicate with home branches during the show. Schedule demonstrations of the equipment several times each day.
Crawler / Tracked Vehicles: Does the facility permit driving crawler type tractors and steel wheeled vehicles in the show area? What restrictions, if any, can be expected?
Deposits Required: In the budget plan funding for deposits. Often, facilities, portable toilets, rental equipment, insurance, etc. may require money up front to ensure services are available when requested.
Display Area Layout: Develop a plan for placement of engines, tractors, non operating displays, fences, fire lanes, forklifts, water, food, portable toilets, spectator seaüng, retail sales, crafts, flea market, etc. Provide adequate spacing for safe operation of equipment, access by emergency vehicles, maximum use of available shade, etc. Consider noise, smoke and fumes generated by operating equipment, location of food, traffic lanes, water, planned activities, lighting, and security.
Drinking Fountains: Provide adequate drinking water facilitates on the show grounds. If the quality of available water is not adequate, consider providing bottled water. Solicit assistance from a local water supplier who may offer discounts or contributions. Water coolers may be rented if necessary.
Electrical Power: Consider power requirements. PA systems, food booths, area lighting, tractor pull area, etc., determine portable power requirements. Be safe with extension cords, etc.
Emergency Services: Have phone numbers readily available and posted for police, fire and ambulance service. Notify the local agencies of the planned event and who the key show personnel are. Provide a phone number to exhibitors should they need to be contacted by someone in an emergency. Have a First Aid Station with a sign and note it on your map, and bulletin board.
Entertainment: Entertainment features are always a big hit with both exhibitors and spectators. Consider local talent groups, children, seniors, music, dancers, clowns, etc. Be creative!
Environmental Concerns: Are there environmental issues in the area that visitors may not know about? Any restrictions on noise, smoke, parking, camping, pets, etc. should be addressed.
Facility: Have the facility ready. onen there may be mowing, grading; watering, relocating of equipment, etc. that can be done weeks or days ahead of the event. Check the facility during the day and again at night to determine things that may need to be done. Check the lightning. Know where the circuit breakers are. Check for safety hazards. Are duplicate keys needed?
Facility Reservation: Many sites may require reservations as long as a year in advance. Don’t hesitate to reserve the show facility as far in advance as possible. Once the site and date commitments are made, serious planning, advertisement, etc. can begin.
Fencing: Review the National Safety Guidelines on exhibit fencing, and tractor pulls, establish requirements, provide chalked lines in display areas, keep loading and unloading separated from spectators, ensure fire lanes are kept clear, etc.
Food: There are great opportunities to sell prepared food to exhibitors and spectators. There are also many options available; other non-profit agencies often have food booths that they set-up and manage, or the facility may provide a large kitchen and eating area staffed by volunteers. Consider portable barbecues, catering services, etc. Have n knowledgeable person supervising food handling. Don’t miss an opportunity to make some money on whoever provides the food. Negotiate something reasonable and fair to everyone and put it in writing. You should check with the local Health Department before preparing and sell food. You don’t want to be shut down the first day of the show for non compliance of food preparation guidelines in your city or county.
Forklift: A large show may require 2 or more forklifts of different sizes. These can be rented or may be provided by a local member or agency as a courtesy contribution. In any case there should be designated drivers, experienced, and willing to patiently accommodate loading and unloading of members treasures. Have additional chains, straps, lifting eyes, etc. available and expect the worst.
Gasoline: Will gasoline be provided to exhibitors? Gasoline may be contributed by a local dealer. Where is gasoline available? Provide gasoline storage reminder in safety pamphlet provided to exhibitors.
Handicap Parking: Designate appropriate parking for handicapped persons. Provide provisions for handicapped exhibitors to request special consideration if needed.
Insurance for People Movers and Barrel Rides: Our insurance company will provide coverage for people movers and barrel rides. There is no additional cost for either the people mover or barrel ride. However there are requirements that need to be adhered to insure coverage. Under insurance on our website are listed the requirements for each. Several of the requirements listed for people movers require us to review pictures of your people movers. They are to be sent to Jeff Fenske. No pictures of the barrel rides are required but you need to adhere to the requirements listed.
Key Personnel: Consider providing various colored vest for personnel working the event that can be called upon for assistance, such as parking, set-up, forklift, security, safety, etc.
Lights: Is existing lighting adequate? What areas will require portable lighting? Most rental agencies have portable lighting and some may be willing to donate or discount the equipment.
Loading and Unloading: These areas should be designated and separated from the spectators. It is a good idea to have a designated loading/unloading team to assist the exhibitors.
Maps, Directions to Show: Is a map to the show area required? Clear directions should be included in all advertisement.
Meeting Facility: Determine where the National Meeting will be held, provide lights, PA system, flag, seating, and include the meeting location, date and time in the show agenda. Coordinate the meeting agenda, time, and any special requirements with the National Directors.
Motels, Hotels, Local Area: Provide information on local motels, hotels, restaurants, historical sites and other sites of interest in the area in all advertisements and exhibitor welcoming packages. Contact area motels, hotels, and restaurants and inquire about discounts for visiting members during the event.
Parade: Is a parade planned? Map out parade route. Determine with local officials if a special permit is required? Provide a PA system and a knowledgeable commentator to announce the parade. Have each participant provide sufficient information prior to the parade (simple form) so that each participant and their equipment may receive special recognition at the announcing area. Ensure the safety of spectators, especially children, during the parade.
Parking: Designate spectator parking areas and assist them in parking. Designate exhibitors parking areas separate from the spectators parking areas if possible. Designate exhibitor trailers parking areas as well. Include all parking areas in your security plans.
Pets: Provide information concerning pets on facility grounds, the exhibit areas, camping area, etc… Restrictions on pets should be covered in the advertisements. Local information should be covered in detail in the welcoming package.
Public Address System: Provide a public address system to announce events, locate someone in an emergency, etc. The National meeting should also have a PA system available. The National Directors have a portable system that can be forwarded to the host branch if required.
Raffles: Are raffles planned? Have the raffle items visible to spectators and exhibitors. Sell tickets at key locations. Promote the cause of the raffle. A raffle during the dinner meal is often a big success.
Rest Rooms, Portable Toilets: Are restroom facilities adequate. Are there scheduled cleanings? Are portables required? How many, where, costs? Ask local agencies for discounts, and donations.
Safety Officer: Assign a knowledgeable safety officer. Provide them the information and support necessary to ensure safety is first on everyone’s mind. The Safety Officer should be easily recognizable by a special vest, name tag, or other high visibility means. They should be knowledgeable of the National Safety Guidelines, insurance company requirements, any local requirements, and be skilled in communicating with others.
Safety: Safety is one of the most important issues to ensure a successful show. A great show can turn into a sad event very quickly. Each exhibitor should be provided a safety guide upon arrival which includes unloading, loading, spacing of equipment, fencing, storage of inflammables, operation of engines, tractors and other exhibits in the display area, trailer parking, any specific local or facility requirements and other general safety reminders.
Security: Unfortunately, whenever a large group gathers there is the need for some measure of control. A visible security force is usually a good deterrent for the unruly, however, at most shows there are many valuable displays, vehicles, trailers, campers, etc., that need to be protected to ensure an enjoyable event. There are many options available to the host branch. There may be volunteers, rental security agencies, local police or sheriff departments often have personnel that work part time at such events, boy scouts troops with adult supervision, or the facility may have its own security force.
Show Schedule: Establish a show schedule and provide a copy for the exhibitors and spectators. Post a copy on the bulletin board. List the daily opening and closing times, tractor pulls, parades, children events, computer demonstrations, dinners, meetings, and other special events during the day and evening. The schedule should cover the activities for each day of the event and include a map showing where the events will be held.
Signs: Prepare and post signs for the event at key points on the main roads leading to the event, at the event entrance, parking areas, exhibitor sign-in, display areas. flea market area, food, show offce or location of event officials, tractor pull area, National Meeting, rest rooms, handicapped assistance areas, etc.
Social Activities: Getting members together just to socialize enhances camaraderie, lets people that have each other for years finally meet face to face, and brings us all closer together. Saturday night dinners are always a big hit, should be a money maker, and are a good time to hold the National meeting while everyone is seated and nearly finished eating. Some branches have had successful ice cream socials, pancake breakfasts, barbecues, etc. Help may be available from some of the farm related organizations that involve school kids, especially teens. They can help setup, serve food, clean up, etc. and should receive special recognition for their help. Activities that involve children can be great fun. Ensure adult supervision and safety are involved in planning and conducing these activities.
Spectator Parking: If you need to layout and mark off a parking area for spectators, it would be good to do this in advance. For head-in parking, string a line every 63 feet. This should give adequate room for parking and driving. Drive up to the line or string from both sides.
Spectator Seating: Provide adequate seaüng or rest areas for the spectators. Consider the availability ofpicnic tables, folding chairs, benches, hay bales, etc. Spectators will stay longer ifåere is a place to rest, cool-off, have something to eat and drink, and rest rooms nearby.
Time Frame: Early in the planning stages devise a program guide listing all the tasks that have to happen to make the show a success. Each task should be assigned to a responsible person or committee and have a “not earlier than date,” a t‘not later than date,” and a “completion date” assigned. The guide will help in determining in what order tasks should be done and those that must be done prior to or upon completion of other tasks. It is also useful when assigning tasks and in following up to see if things are on schedule, what things are falling behind, and where additional help is needed. Establish times for updating the National Directors, Web Page, and other significant events that will change over time.
Tractor Parking: Designate the tractor parking areas. If possible park the tractors so the spectators can see ail sides of the tractors. Be cautious of parking on any inclines and use chocks if appropriate. Restrict spectators from climbing onto tractors unless the owner is present and personally gives permission.
Tractor Area Layout: If you have to layout and mark the area for parking always leave plenty of driving or roadway room. One way is to mark (paint) the lines in the grass; 12 feet wide for the tractors and then 18 feet wide for the driving area. (These measurements arc a minimum distance. Wider is better.) If possible make all of the tractor lanes as a drive through so as not to back into any spots. If you would need to pull start a tractor, this gives plenty of room. It works best if you paint a line showing where tractors are to stop. This helps the parking crew to tell the exhibitor to pull up to the line. It keeps the row of equipment straight. If you have a large area, number the rows.
Exhibitors always like to park in the same spot. If the exhibitor uses a chock block they can paint the blocks and put their names on them to identify their spot in the lineup.
Tractor Pull Area: Review the National Safety Guidelines on tractor pulls. Restrict pull area access to essential personnel only. Ensure the distance from the tractors to the spectators is adequate. Use barriers to prevent spectator access to the tractor pull area. Use a PA system to announce the event, giving special recognition to the owner, driver, and the tractor.
Trailer Parking: Designate a parking area for exhibitor’s trailers. Ensure security covers this area.
Trash Containers: Ensure adequate trash containers are placed throughout the show grounds. Have them checked periodically and plan to empty them if necessary after normal show hours.
Water: Provide a source of water in the exhibit area. Provide hoses ifwater is available. Provide a water wagon if appropriate.
Welcome: Have a dynamic person or group greet each exhibitor upon arrival, answering questions, providing directions. etc. Provide each exhibitor with a welcoming package to include, show layout, safety rules, parking areas, unloading areas. display area, emergency procedures, list of key personnel, camping area, local attractions, etc. Have each exhibitor sign in and explain the method of controlling access to exhibit areas to them.
Revised: January 5, 2009