NWI Events in the Making Part Two: Get the City on Board

By: Jessica Campbell Last Updated: April 11, 2017

Nothing will get done with one person, it will always take a team the group of Northwest Indiana planners agreed. We discussed all that goes into making the region’s premier events like Piergoi Festival, Lakefront Festival, Festival of the Lakes and the Shelf Ice Brew Fest with Amy Frets, Director of Communications of Whiting, Nikki Lopez, Event Director of Hobart, Donna Muta, Special Events Coordinator of Hammond and City Controller Rich Murphy and Kesha Pate, City Marketing Director of Michigan City!

These hard workers share some secrets about how they get everyone on board when it comes to planning and executing the many events, including the local chamber, the businesses, and the volunteers!

Part Two: How To: Get the City on Board

whiting-easter-parade-2017-2Amy of Whiting: We have really teamed up the Chamber of Commerce to work together more than ever. The Pierogi Fest is a Chamber event, along with Party Like a Pirate Day and Superhero Day. We also get the businesses on board and find a way they can fit into this theme.

We have a Pirate Bar Crawl and restaurants have special meals that day Paint the Town Pink is, the entire month of May the city turns pink with the streetlights turning pink and signs are pink. We want a strong theme because that is what people want. At the end of the July 4th parade, we have the characters gather so that kids can take pictures with them. I think to become a destination, making sure the branding and the marketing goes with the theme lets families see that and makes them remember that and come back.

Hobart_Xmas_tree_2016_1Nikki of Hobart: Getting the groups – the non-profits, the departments, the people – going in the same direction. I have taken a whole different approach with marketing: I started sponsoring non-profits, and youth sports teams, like soccer and Pop Warner. I sponsor them and in return they are my volunteers at events. I want everyone to know and get excited about what is going on in Hobart.

We had the Hobart High School Football team come out to a holiday event and everyone thought it was so cool that the Brickies were spooning chicken noodle soup. They were like celebrities. I created a scavenger hunt and had about 60 people came out to the first year. It is like an amazing race, throughout the downtown businesses, which promoted the business and local groups and brought them together. Same with the Lakefront Festival, the biggest festival in Hobart, is an event created by the combination of the Chamber, the Lions Club, the Elks Lodge, The Jaycees and the Hobart Community Foundation.

Beatles-Fest-2016-01Donna of Hammond: During the course of an entire year of our events, there is no city department left untouched when it comes to events! We have different committees working on different segments of an event. For example, with Festival of the Lakes, we have an Advertising Committee, a Security Committee, a Grounds Committee, etc. While I manage these meetings overall, we work in large groups and love the free exchange of ideas. The City of Hammond is our playground.

Hammond business has been extremely generous throughout the years; they always support us whether it be financially or with trade agreements. Without their help, there would be no party. As far as volunteers, we are unique in Hammond because of the College Bound Scholarship students, which is where every student who receives the College Bound scholarship is required to work hours to give back to the community.

mc-drumcorpRich and Kesha of Michigan City: Identifying what kinds of events are going to attract what kinds of people and how do we engage those groups and create something that people want to come and enjoy. There is a lot of listening and talking to different groups which all have very strong opinions that go in lots of different directions. Talking to all, making sure they all have a voice and letting them know they have a place at the table.

Our volunteers come to us and say ‘How do we put this on?’ Then, we get the groups working together to get people to volunteer in whatever capacity they can. All kinds of groups, the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce, or just the local people decide they want to do this thing and make it happen. Some events are city events and some are community events, where we assist them and make it easier on them to access permits for example.

Next week, the planners talk about "How to Stay Positive" when dealing with problems, emergencies, and the uncontrollable weather.

Part 1: The Strategy
Part 2: Get the City on Board
Part 3: How to Stay Positive (stay tuned!)
Part 4: How to: Construct the Future (stay tuned!)