ITALIAN FESTIVAL & END OF SEASON

Hi All,

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.

Pre Set UpStage Set UpSet UpHay Bales Gourds Fausta Costumes Costumes 3 Costumes 2 Climber CampiesTreat YourselfStage Tahoe BathSnyder Sign Sierra Italia ShirleyandWilliamSchats Rosaliee PrusaiusPope Pies Nancy My Daddys Mitchell Minton Market Jerky Italian HeartsTear Down

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Pink Pumpkin Festival

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Yesterday was our last regular season market. We call it the Pink Pumpkin Fall Festival due to the fact that it started out as a fund raiser for breast cancer awareness. The first year, we thought it would be a great idea to have a bunch of pumpkins that were pink that the customers could purchase and it would go with the theme. So I spent almost a week painting pumpkins pink with house paint and using brushes to do it. And they looked fabulous, for about a minute. Come to find out that pumpkins, with their waxy surface, do not really take well to be painted. As soon as the pumpkins were touched or moved, the paint would just flake off.

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Fortunately, after that debacle, we found out that there is actually a breed of pumpkin called a Porcelain Doll that is actually a light pink so we started the hunt to find a local grower that had them. We were able to luck out and, ever since, we have had real pink pumpkins available at our end of the season festival.

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This year was our fourth year putting together this fun, end of season, market. As in previous years, we had some very nice live music, face painting, kids performances, and a great pumpkin patch featuring the Porcelain Dolls. If you’ve read my previous posts, you have figured out that I love this time of year. After a long, hot summer, working six to seven days a week, it’s nice to have the weather start to turn cooler, beverages like hot apple cider start to become fun to drink, seeing the leaves turn orange, gold, and red, watching football, and getting ready for my favorite holiday.

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But back to the festival. This year started out a little rough. Due to a scheduling snafu, there was another event that was setting up in the exact same location as our event and at the same time. This is one of those things that can cause a problem when you are an event planner. Sometimes, especially at a popular location, things can get confused and there can be overlap. Hey, shit happens. Of course, now that it’s a day later and I am at home reflecting, I can be a little more blasé about it but, let me tell you, when I first showed up at the location and there were already tents from the other event set up in my spot, I was maybe a little pissy. Fortunately, the other event manager was easy to work with and we came up with a compromise but it still wasn’t a great situation for either one of us. He was setting up a 5K run and the route happened to be right where my vendors were supposed to be able to park their vehicles so that they could set up for my festival. It made setting up the festival a challenge and I had to deal with vendors that were upset with the whole situation but, this is what we are there to do. Not all events run smoothly and it’s our job to make sure that you, the visitor to the event, don’t know that there was ever a problem.

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Now, if you read my Why No Dogs post, you know that we do not allow animals in the markets due to numerous reasons, specifically because there is a county code that forbids it, but yesterday we had to make an exception. You see, the 5K run that we overlapped with was a K-9 fun run that was sponsored by the local Sheriff’s Dept. and their K-9 unit. Because of this, there were hundreds of folks out for the run with their dogs and since the events were basically right on top of each other, I gave in. I didn’t even put out my “No Animals” signs. It just wasn’t worth the fight. So there were tons of dogs in the market yesterday. Again, shit happens, so we just had to deal with it. Fortunately, the people who came out for the run ended up shopping at the market and, from a money making perspective, it worked out. There were a couple of issues with the animals but, overall, the people who brought their dogs out yesterday, kept them under control. Of course maybe the fact that all of the animals, both two and four legged, had just run a 5K made them more relaxed. I don’t know.

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The weather behaved perfectly being cool in the morning and mid-70’s in the afternoon. All of my vendors made some money and I think that all of the folks that came out were happy with the event. It was also really nice to talk to the customers and hear how much they enjoy the farmers’ markets that we put on in the summer and that while they were bummed the season was coming to an end, they were already looking forward to coming back next year. It’s always great to hear that the people who come to an event are looking forward to returning.

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Next week is our last market of the year. It’s not one of our weekly markets so it doesn’t really count as our regular season but we are part of a huge Italian Festival, which will be the subject of my next post, and it marks the very end of our season. I am looking forward to traveling this fall and visiting other markets in different cities. And, now that I am writing about all of this, I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you.