Posted on October 25, 2022 @ 11:21:00 AM by Paul Meagher
Alot of my time and energy from august onward went into preparing for a couple of annual festivals we hosted at our farm. Our festivals are branded "Blueberry Jam". Our summer festival took place outdoors August 17-18, 2022 at the beginning of the wild blueberry harvesting season. Our autumn festival (the "Harvest Series") took place inside our barn Oct 7-9, 2022 a couple of weeks after the blueberries are typically harvested. We started the festival after I purchased some wild blueberry fields 4 years ago and we were looking for a name that would pay tribute to blueberries. These festivals are now the largest revenue generators for our farm.
A summer without covid restrictions meant we were able to host more people at our events and in tighter quarters. We decided to release 600 tickets per event for our two-day outdoor festival. We sold around 400 tickets on Friday and sold out on Saturday, turning people away at the gate. That was more than the 250 per event we were allowed to sell last year due to covid restrictions. We hope to grow the outdoor festival further next year.
The Villages band was a headliner on the first day of our two day outdoor festival (Oct 17-18, 2022). They delivered a lively performance with their unique celtic rock music to an appreciative crowd. Their music is featured on the sound track our videographers Dave & Sky created on the YouTube video below which we will use to promote the 2023 outdoor festival.
We used social media, mostly Instagram and Facebook, to market the event. The music event organizer, Rankin MacInnis, frequently posted to Instagram and Facebook to create ongoing buzz and also created some great graphics and merchandise for the event. For a small fee, concert goers could tent in our field for the night. There was quite a bit of uptake on camping and I expect that aspect of the event to continue to grow and evolve next year. Camping makes it economical and possible (no accommodations otherwise) for people to travel from farther away to attend our festival.
Our events have 4 sources of income: concert tickets, merchandise, camping, and food. I feel we can continue to grow on all aspects again next year as people appeared to have a good time this year and we have a large and growing amount of Blueberry Jam merchandise out in the public helping to advertise our festivals and brand.
We recently hosted the autumn concert series in our barn each night from Oct 7th to 9th, 2022. We had 4 music acts per night that went from 8:00 pm to midnight (although it often went later). We experimented with selling 150 to 170 tickets per event because we weren't sure what the capacity should be post-covid where people were free to dance and mingle more freely. Here is a video from our Saturday night concert with a soundtrack from the Aaron MacDonald band who performed the closing act that night.
Our music events don't adhere to any particular genre as we have artists performing rock and roll, country, folk, reggae, indie, etc... Me and my wife will be attending a 4 day music conference from November 3rd to 6th, 2022 where we will be able to sample alot of new and established music performers. Whereas we used to go to this annual music conference just to enjoy the many and varied music performers, we are increasingly attending the conference to look for musical talent to suggest to our music organizer and for other music events we might host on the farm next year. Our outdoor concert is also nominated for "event of the year" at this conference but we are up against alot of larger events where we are a smaller rural event, so I'm not betting on a win but we are evolving/innovating in the music+venue+parking+camping+food+merch+branding space that is a festival.
I never really expected to get into the event business. The main reason I wanted to host the first event was to create some awareness for the farm so that when it came time to sell our wine there would be some brand recognition for our farm. Four years later, we still haven't sold any of the wine we are making (hopefully next year) but our event business has taken on a life of its own to the extent that we are more concerned about whether the wine manufacturing/selling regulations will interfere with our event business.
As I wind down the event business for this year, I look forward to what next year will hold. Partnering with a skilled music organizer was a good decision as it paired nicely with my skill set as the venue developer. I look forward to our ongoing collaboration in growing the Blueberry Jam festivals. The combination of hosting a music event and offering overnight camping intrigues me. I now have an inventory of 4 portable toilets which allows me to host music events and campers for up to 200 people without any portable toilet cost except toilet paper and my time to clean them. We hosted our first wedding in our barn this year and have two booked for next year. We also offered tenting to a large group of runners who couldn't be accommodated otherwise. The running event has booked our venue for tenting next year. The event business has tipped our farm into the profit making zone for the first time since we owned the farm. I can no longer use the farm to lower my taxable income, but the farm will not make too much of a profit after I reinvest the profits into improving the venue for next year.
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