It’s me again, The Market Guy. Well, it has been one heck of a weekend and a great market season. Now let me start off by being honest and letting you all know that I am typing this after three 12+ hour days, tons of walking (51,500 steps according to my FitBit), some exhaustion, and maybe one or two vodka cocktails, so you will have to forgive me if I ramble at times.
Our Italian Festival, here in Reno, is a big deal and this year it went very well. It takes place over the Columbus Day Weekend and typically brings over 30,000 people to the event. Because it is such a big event, there are many sections of vendors brought in by multiple event organizers. This can cause a little chaos when we are setting up and tearing down because all of these people are trying to get in or out of the same areas with vehicles, equipment, and supplies. Fortunately, we are allowed to set up on Friday. It makes things a whole lot easier and I am pleased to say that well over half of our vendors came out were set up Friday afternoon.
Saturday started bright and early, I was on site at 6:30 AM and my vendors all were set up by 9 which was a full hour before the event started. Exactly what I was hoping would happen. The event was scheduled to start at 10 but, as normally happens, shoppers started arriving well before that. The morning was cool but since it seems that Summer wants to hang around longer than normal, the afternoon got up to almost 90. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know that I love Fall and am really ready for the weather to get cooler so while it was good for the crowds, I was hoping for some cooler temps. Oh well, maybe next year. Anyway, one of the challenges that we as event organizers have is which vendors will do well facing the sun, especially on hot days. For this festival, we had our vendors in two rows, facing each other, lining both sides of a small street. One side of the street would get sun almost all day and the other would get shade. And, as you can imagine, all of them wanted to be in the shade. So, we have to take that into consideration when we plan our layout. Now, this year, when we originally planned our layout design, we made an error when we planned and, after I had sent the map to the vendors, there were quite a few that reminded me that it was crucial that they were in the shade. So, after some re-configuring, we were able to make most of them happy. Some were still upset but, this year because of the heat, we really had to make some tough calls regarding which vendors were in the sun. You just have to love high desert living. I have done this event in the snow, in cool conditions, in warmer weather, and now in the heat. Who knows, next year it could be chilly. And then they will all be begging us to put them in the sun so that they don’t freeze.
So after we got all set up and ready to go, the crowds started arriving. We were next to a huge stage and had live music playing almost the whole weekend. For the most part it was amazing, traditional Italian bands serenading the huge crowds and, between the sets, they had very nice recorded music playing. The only trouble we did have was that there were a couple of groups that played, including a DJ, that were just not, in my opinion, appropriate for the event. To go from a nice six piece band with a real Italian singer to a DJ that blasted contemporary dance music was a real let down. It was so loud that I could feel the bass vibrating the asphalt fifty yards away. Now if I was in a club, that would be great but to try and have vendors talk to customers during that, was a real pain in the ass. To be fair, when they played the next day, they turned it down after we explained the situation.
For two days, our downtown was transformed. The smell of cooking sauce, the sound of Italian being spoken and sung, and the sights of everyone accepting the culture was wonderful. I had to laugh when I saw an older Asian woman walking around in a T-shirt that read, “100% Italian”. There were thousands in attendance and it was amazing to see all of the people enjoying themselves. Our vendors all seemed to do well even if sales were off a little bit from last year. The Italian Festival is generally one of the biggest money making weekends of the year for them.
At 5PM on Sunday, the music stopped, the vendors tore down, and the sauce stopped cooking. Within a couple of hours of the festivals end, the downtown area was converted back into the Reno that we are all used to.
And thus ended our market season for 2015. The Italian Festival is our grand hurrah and the time that we say good bye to our vendors and all of the customers that have come out and supported them and us throughout the Summer. One of the nicest things about running these events are the relationships that we build with our vendors. Most of them become friends and some become even a little closer than that. We spend a lot of time together and during that time, we share fun and laughter and even some pain and tears. This year, we had a couple of vendors that did not make it out because of health reasons, one that couldn’t finish out the season due to a very serious health concern, and one that passed away right before the season started. For my vendors who are dealing with illnesses, I can only wish them and their families well and I hope that they get better soon and that they are back with us next season.
So that’s it. The season is over, it’s time to look forward to our next market in December and to enjoy some much needed relaxation time. I won’t be posting for a couple of weeks because I am going to be traveling a bit but I am hoping to visit a couple of markets in California and I will be reporting on what I see there. I am also really looking forward to meeting and speaking with other market managers to hear what their experiences are and, hopefully, get some great tips from them.
If you came out and saw us this season, thank you. If you weren’t able to, I hope you are able to come see us in December and next season. Be sure to like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ShirleysFarmersMarketsNV and on our website at http://www.shirleysfarmersmarkets.com. I am also going to be redesigning my app where you can find vendors near you so look for updates on that at both https://www.facebook.com/EventVendorMap and on my site at http://www.eventvendormap.com.
Finally, here are the pictures I took at the Italian Festival last weekend. I hope that you were able to come out and enjoy the festival but, if you weren’t able to, I hope that these pictures will make you feel like coming out next year.
So good bye for now and I look forward to posting more soon.