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Organising A Fete

Establish a fete file if one does not already exist. It should contain details of all organisations and persons involved in the fete.
During each fete meeting have the secretary not only make notes, but have a separate column with an action plan, noting who and what needs to be done before the next meeting or by a particular date, so there is no confusion regarding who and what has to be achieved. A time line should also be drawn up at the first meeting.
Delegate. A small committee is ideal to organise the overall fete but it is much better to have a person who is responsible for each activity. For a school it is ideal if a parent representative from each class organises one or more activities. They in turn are responsible for recruiting volunteers for that activity. Each representative should have a sheet that is distributed to parents in that group with times they have been rostered to assist. (This is like a default volunteering so that if they cannot do those times they feel obligated to volunteer for something else.) Remember these shifts should be relatively short to give those parents an opportunity to enjoy the fete and spend some money. It is important to have parents at the fete as they tend to give the kids extra money to spend.
Do not reinvent the wheel – find out which fetes have been successful in your area and contact key people to discover what works, collect lists of contacts and share ideas.
Try to identify possible competition from other fetes, special local events, etc Place onto a calendar so that you can effectively plan the best possible date for your fete
Book essential equipment, entertainment/entertainers and venues early. My experience has shown successful event organisers book up to twelve months ahead. This gives them security with planning/advertising and is important to the validity of budgeting anticipated costs.
Pre sell your ride tickets/ wristbands through Try Booking. Try Booking is an easy to use transparent ticketing system which enables people to purchase their tickets online prior to the event. Talk to us at Smart Amusements about this easy to use online booking system.
Have a different activity/entertainment going on at all times.
Make a list of people who can help due to their expertise or contacts. Example: Use the P&Cs or Schools “Community Resource File”, if there is one available in the school.
Allocate different areas on the grounds for defined activities such as hot food, kiddie land, etc. You will need to make a site map. If there is no existing map zoom in to the site on Google Earth. Transfer the image to Excel. At the site measure the length of a wall or something similar and then measure the same item on the image to get your scale right. You can then slot in rides, tents and stalls. This item can be emailed between all stake holders in the event and modified so that every one knows where they are supposed to set up .You can even include the measurements between each tent or attraction and how far they are from the nearest wall or boundary.
Sideshow Alley with rides for both the toddlers and teenagers is a great way to attract and hold the younger set. This is usually the best area for quick fun food such as fairy floss (fresh on the stick of course), novelty candy, etc. It is important to check that operators of this type of equipment can provide assurance on the safety of their rides, as well as the standard of maintenance, so that children are not placed in a dangerous situation.
Senior children make excellent mobile spruikers and entertainers during the fete – they can dress up as clowns, etc..
Have a commercial area and advertise fete as a ” Community Fete”. This provides an extra attraction, involves the wider community, and raisers extra funds as the exhibitors could pay for their site or percentage of gross sales. It is not uncommon for a 20% commission to be charged to exhibitors who use your venue to earn a profit. After all, it is your hard work in planning a successful fete that created the opportunity for them to earn some money as well as increase community awareness of their services. NOTE: check if they require public liability cover or P&C can take out cover for the day and share the cost among exhibitors.
Commercial operators and crafts people that provide demonstrations also provide an attraction for your fete.
Be aware of dangerous or hazardous goods that may present potential problems. A comprehensive first aid kit with a qualified or suitably trained person on hand is a bonus. What would you do in the case of an emergency?
Include aged citizens. Phone and invite aged person’s homes and possibly arrange for pick-up in a minibus.
Sound system to be of good quality and speakers placed so that announcements can be heard clearly. Use an FM microphone if possible as this gives the commentator mobility. School systems may be cost effective but are usually designed for delivery to a restricted area during assemblies.
Commentator needs to be able to move to promote next activity as well as slow moving stalls, with timely announcements, a five minute special, etc…
Distribute personal free tickets to all families, community members etc… Each ticket has a unique number. The family could write their name and contact number onto each ticket on arrival at the fete. All tickets to be put into a draw for a prize. Tickets collected up by a set time, say 12 noon. Draw winner close to end of fete. This encourages people to attend and stay. This also gives you a means of approximating the attendance; valuable information for the next school newsletter and for future fete planning.
Use children from school, local groups and contributory secondary schools to put on entertainment. This encourages wider community participation and attendance.
Entertainment is best located close to Devonshire tea area so that parents can sit and purchase (enjoy) a cuppa and cake while being entertained.
Senior children make excellent waiters and can circulate around tables asking for an order. This not only increases sales but helps to ensure that the tables made available for patrons of the food provided get the use of this important space. They also keep the area clean and attractive. Hopefully, this will also keep the tables and chairs from being taken by persons who feel a need to sit on your chair in a far-flung corner of the school.
It is better to cluster the fete into a defined area rather than spread all over the school area. Sign posting areas is a good idea.
Consider parking and arrange to have parking attendant if necessary.
Check with local authority and police for parking.
Check with local authority for assistance, signage placement (advertising), etc…
Avoid scattering activities and attractions too widely or separating them with buildings. It is often better for the organisers and for public awareness/accessibility to have the fete located in an open area without obstructions. Sign post if this is unavoidable.
Toilets – are there sufficient, close enough, are they open??? Who has the key???
Have plenty of bins/wheelie bins and hire a large dumper bin if necessary to avoid inconveniencing the schools normal rubbish collection.
Have a good knowledge of electrical requirements for equipment to be used by stalls. Both those arranged by fete committee and commercial operators. AVOID power boards and double adaptors. These create voltage drop with potentially expensive results with damage to equipment. A piece of hire equipment, for which you will be responsible, can easily cost $3,000 or more to replace. Blown fuses take time to locate and repair with commensurate loss of earnings (profit).
Have a parent electrician check these requirements together with capacity of school power boards.
Electrician should check all extension cords and adaptors/power boards for safety.
Have an electrician and a plumber present throughout the day to rectify any problems that may occur. If he decides the power is insufficient organise generators. The best generators to hire are silenced diesel generators. Small petrol models are usually noisy and not strong enough for the task. Before contacting the generator company do an audit of the items including types of plugs and how many watts each item uses. They can then advise you on the size of generator you will need. A full service generator company such as Southern Generators (03 9587 9377) can supply generators, distribution boards and leads if you require these items.
School children could colour posters promoting the upcoming fete. This can be placed onto their parents’ car to visually promote the fete wherever the family travels in the district.
Have bumper stickers printed for parents’ cars.
The school newsletter is a powerful tool. It can effectively raise community awareness of the up-coming fete. Start early with progress bulletins, news flashes, statements of thanks/appreciation, requests for donations and help, information on get-togethers for making things, etc…
Use a unique colour for the fete bulletins. Number them and date them. If the school or a parent has a data base programme it is possible to send personalised letters through mail merging or using personalised labels on newsletters and correspondence. Eg: To Fionas Mum and Dad, thank you for your ……
Use graphics to attract and create a picture of fun at the fair to your bulletins.
Provide trestles and chairs for stallholders, if needed. Commercial exhibitors can be charged a small fee to cover cost.
Draw up a site plan of the overall fete area. Detail all possible artificial and natural features (buildings, trees, power points, power lines, reticulation, water points, etc). Use this to plan the fete and locations for activities. The school should have a site plan of the school grounds you could use.
The location of sufficient power points is essential to meet the planned requirements of stallholders, school band, electrical appliances.
Do you have a parent who is a sign writer? Graphic artist? Advertising/marketing expert? Journalist? Works for a local newspaper? Etc. etc. A parent who can signwrite may provide banners to be strung up at focal points in the community. (A countdown of days on banner is effective)
Local Real Estate Agent can be asked to sponsor signs around the area.
Mark out stall sites so that everyone knows their boundaries and location. Lane marker can be used.
Not all stalls need a roster of parents as some stalls are best run by two to three people who have the expertise to keep equipment operating effectively and profitability.
Keep a list of emergency volunteers on hand.
A mobile phone or two have become almost essential as they are highly mobile and accessible to all parts of the fete grounds. Remember to have the mobile numbers handy as there are occasions were a number has to be given to a contact person. Ever tried to find someone at a fete so that they can respond to an incoming phone call? Estimate a cost into your budget for this expense.
Volunteer stallholders should be given a drink, something to eat or a toilet break at regular intervals.
Arrange for sunscreen cream to be available for the public – either free or for a donation.
Always, always remember to reward those parents or groups who go out of their way to assist.
Check with local health authority for clearance and requirements for food stalls, especially hazardous food lines such as dairy products and meat.
Notify adjoining property owners and police of the fete.
If you are running a twilight fete you will need more security than a day fete. Twilight fetes are often very successful due to the number of activities children now attend at weekends. If possible have a continuous police presence through a display of a police car and have several light towers. These are available from plant hire companies.
Serving alcohol has been popular in recent years. We do not recommend this as it can take away from the family atmosphere. However, if you do, make sure you have the necessary permits, make sure there is no underage drinking, and do not serve intoxicated patrons.
Arrange for St Johns Ambulance or a suitably qualified person to look after any minor injuries.
Have an emergency evacuation plan arranged for the site.
Check our page on cash handling. But also note you need a secure area to count cash. We have seen far too many events where the cash counting area is not locked. We have also come across many events where the cash office is not easily accessible to pay in money. The counters are locked in the office where they cannot here people banging on the door trying to pay in late monies. There should always be a person who can either let in an identified person or preferably a window where money can be payed in to the office without allowing all and sundry to enter the building.


The ideas above are offered as a helpful guide only. Please accept them, modify them or reject them to suit your own purpose. Clients should not act solely on the basis of the material presented here and Smart Amusements does not accept responsibility for any ideas implemented for whatever reason. We wish you a popular, exciting and financially rewarding Fete.