View Full Version : Hosting Events - My Experience
03-05-2008, 01:10 PM
Many folks assume hosting an event is easy and anyone can do it. That is just not the case. I have helped with several events and have made a lot of mistakes - some of which were very painful to learn.
There is a lot of planning, coordination and site work which has to happen before any event can take place. It also depends on the size of the event - a small local battle will be easier than a national event.
I will say that the first thing someone should do is create a list then break these down into appropriate items/areas to be addressed. I have done this to help plan and assign folks. I am sure others will have different (if not better) ideas.
03-05-2008, 09:19 PM
I'll add to this by saying that make sure you have redundancies in place. If it can go wrong, most times it will, so make sure you have a backup plan. I learned this the hard way.
03-06-2008, 07:46 AM
I cut my teeth hosting a mainstream event for the Camp Moore Confederate Museum & Cemetery. The event is one of the primary revenue sources for the site, which was abandonded back during the late 80's. I worked in tandem with Wayne Cosby a fellow board memeber, and we learned that as just said in one of the other post that if it aint never happended before, it will !
There are several elements to address such as reenactors, camping, and parking. Spectator parking and concessions. Volunteer no shows and parking. Emergency personell. Porta johns, food, water line breaks, vehicles getting stuck, firewood, field preperation, clean up, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
I could go on but, after many years one learns the do's and dont's. I laugh my A$$ off now when some one starts saying "let's have an event, and we can do this and we can do that." and this guy don't live within 200 miles from the site. Hosting an event requires a BUTT load of work before during and after and generally it's all done by a very few people.
Hosting an event is WORK !!!!!!!
03-06-2008, 09:15 AM
Well, I'll toss in some thoughts from the other end of the spectrum--extremely small, history-focussed non-spectator events. This is what I've implemented myself when organizing these, and also what I've recognized that others are doing when I've attended them.
First there needs to be a good combination of site and historic premise. Ideally, the premise should require only what's on the site and include a reason that participants are staying within the boundaries of the site, to minimize the obviousness of the inevitable fact that the world of 186X ends as soon as you step across the edges.
If you can integrate historic water, sanitation, food, firewood, shelter, etc. all within the site, so much the better.
At some events, that's completely doable (1857 camping trip). At others, for legal or practical reasons, it's impossible, but the site may have enough advantages to still make it well worth using. (The beautifully furnished inn at Fort Hill, KY, which requires a porta john and a modern water source, for example). In that case, you can simple ask participants to overlook the modern compromises, such as the porta john, or minimize the intrusion by designating only certain individuals or kabuki to deal with the items, such as transfering water to period containers.
Along with the period premise will naturally come goals for the participants. Everyone needs a purpose in life, even if it's only passing time and trying to stay comfortable and out of trouble until things get better. The classic military example is a tactical with an objective, or a re-creation of a historic situation with opposing sides. For civilians, the options are even wider.
Well, that's just a start, but one thing I've noticed is that the unique qualities of these kinds of events are there from the very beginning.
03-06-2008, 10:53 AM
The 1857 camping trip was wonderful, and I sometimes dream about going into that one warm-spring gorge with the caves on the sides, and the broken pottery in the stream bed beyond the waterfall. What a fantastic experience that was.
When the liability minimum went from $1 million to $2 million back in the summer of 1998 for simple living histories at certain state sites, we thought that was a bit much. Oh, if we only knew how far things would expand beyond the "wood, water, waste, and parking" model back in the day.
Perhaps the biggest changes have come along on the administrative side of event organizing in the past few years, and by that I mean the event insurance, participant insurance, bonding requirements, detailed activities plans, in addition to the usual landowner agreements, traffic plans, law enforcement, etc. Dealing with environmental issues, both natural and manmade, has become a more important hurdle in recent years, too. Before someone shouts back, "we don't have to deal with any of that stuff out here!" -- don't worry -- eventually you or your group will, too.
03-06-2008, 12:22 PM
For the record, I have been able to avoid insurance issues by doing events at NPS sites. The NPS have the participants sign forms making them NPS volunteer employees, giving them worker's compensation coverage in case anything goes wrong.
That's the legal picture sketched in very rough strokes. You will need to get far greater detail from the NPS (which I had for our event) before you can be assured that everyone is covered.
03-06-2008, 02:56 PM
For the record, I have been able to avoid insurance issues by doing events at NPS sites.
We had the same situation using Leslie Morris Park (Fort Hill), Kentucky, which is managed by the city of Frankfort. Our contact person was Nicky Hughes, the curator, and he said that insurance for activities on the site was covered by the city.
03-07-2008, 09:33 PM
(The beautifully furnished inn at Fort Hill, KY, which requires a porta john and a modern water source, for example). In that case, you can simple ask participants to overlook the modern compromises, such as the porta john, or minimize the intrusion by designating only certain individuals or kabuki to deal with the items, such as transfering water to period containers.The great news there, however, is that almost as soon as the last trial participant left the inn the contractors were coming to install indoor restrooms and running water in the cellar. So, no more porta-potties or lugging around plastic water jugs! :party:
Of course, that isn't the same as a period privy, but at least one doesn't see it unless they open the cellar.
03-08-2008, 01:08 PM
Someone oughtta do a PowerPoint presentation on how to plan and run an event for "campaigners"... Maybe even write an article about it.
Someday I hope to try organizing an event somewhere.
03-09-2008, 08:22 PM
Well, let me ask a practical question, then. Our group has been growing steadily more active in the past few years putting on events here in Missouri. One thing we keep running into is the problem of putting an upper limit on the number of participants. We're always worried that we'll register too many people, which will result in overcrowding. This is especially an issue in historic buildings or villages. Yet we hesitate to put too low of a cap on events because "reenactor math" will subtract a number of people shortly before the event. Unfortunately most people who have to drop out tend to do so just before the event, usually because of family or work emergencies. That doesn't leave the organizers enough time to pull in more people.
How have people worked this out in the past? Hank, if you are reading this, you must have faced this situation at that Inn, since that is a historic building & space must be somewhat limited. How did you come up with your registration limit?
03-10-2008, 02:59 PM
Hank, if you are reading this, you must have faced this situation at that Inn, since that is a historic building & space must be somewhat limited. How did you come up with your registration limit? Hi Silvana,
You just asked the hundred thousand dollar question, and unfortunately, I don't think there's a good answer. The only thing I can say is to cap it at the absolute highest number of people you can possibly accommodate and then hope that some of them will back out at the last minute.
For the trial event at one point I had 14 guys and 15 ladies (I'm not going to count the 11 children since their presence depends upon their parents), but over the next 10 months we lost 4 men, and 12 ladies, and even as late as the week of the event we were scrambling to fill positions. The amazing thing is, while we didn't recover our numbers, all the positions got filled! Again, thanks to our recruiters!
The trial event went off with the absolute minimum number of participants that it could go off with; and the employees were run to the bone. Again, I just need to take a second to thank all those who did attend because they're what made it the great event it was. No organizer can put on a great event -- it's all in the participants and the attitude they bring into it -- and they all came with a great attitude!
Unfortunately, I didn't answer your question, but I don't believe there is a true answer, or if there is, I haven't found it.
03-22-2008, 06:57 PM
Sadly, this is no longer the case, as insurances (plural), letter of credit, and performance bond issues are just starting to drive the living history train in a slightly different and darker direction. While this is not applicable to all NPS sites, these fairly new developments will most likely cause a significant change in the way some groups do business. I'll reiterate this doesn't apply to all sites all the time, and it most likely won't affect SOYA LHs.
It will cause a slide or two and some more notes to be added into the PP presentation.
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