Why Your Carnival Date is a BIG Deal!
Choosing a date for your carnival is incredibly important. This may be surprising because not everyone knows that the date of a carnival event makes a difference! This blogpost will discuss the non-intuitive reasons why you should look at all functions in your community, including religious holidays, local school events, three-day weekends, and instances where families would be out-of-town or kept indoors. Keep reading and we'll discuss what this means in more detail below.
You May Not Have Enough Volunteers!
One elementary school in Texas planned their carnival on the same date as the local high-school prom. Unfortunately they had very few junior & senior high-school volunteers and therefore were greatly short-staffed. This was an accidental schedule conflict, of course. However, the school ensured that they reviewed local high- and middle-school calendars before planning their next carnival date. They certainly didn't want their next carnival to coincide with any other important school events. We HIGHLY recommend that you do the same!
The big takeaway is to look at local school's calendars before planning your carnival's date so that you aren't short-staffed in valuable student volunteers. Here are dates you should look for: proms, homecoming, big dances, big sports events, any three-day weekends, and odd vacation days. Try to avoid scheduling your carnival on these days!
Folks May Be Out of Town
The reason most carnivals are in the fall or spring - instead of summer - is that many families go on vacation over the summer, and therefore wouldn't be able to attend a summer carnival. Most carnival planners know that it isn't the best idea to plan a summer carnival for this reason. Plus, fall carnivals and spring fairs tend to have better weather in most areas!
This same rule also goes for spring break, winter break, and or fall break. While families may have less obligations, many will be busy with their own projects or vacation. Also consider popular religious or secular holidays in which families will be out-of-town: you certainly don't want to plan during Easter weekend, Memorial Day weekend, July 4th or during Big holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's (as examples.) Learn which holidays are frequently celebrated in your community, and avoid planning during this time.
Families May Be Busy!
An elementary carnival moved their typical January carnival back to February. It was not weather related or directly related to the winter holidays. Can you guess the reason?
They moved their carnival to February because they knew that families were still financially recovering from the Winter holidays! What a smart move! This may be something to consider with a winter carnival, and would be one reason attendance could be down at your big event. So, one reason families may not come out to your event is if they feel like money is to tight. Moving the date back by one month can make a big difference if you are planning a carnival right after the winter holidays.
A second reason families may stay home instead of attending your carnival is that they are worried that the carnival may be shut down due to bad weather. Be sure to let families know your bad weather policy. For example: "Whether 'rain or shine' we are still having our carnival and have a backup plan for bad weather!" You may wish to send out an email, post on the school (or church) Facebook page, or have a big sign up in the hallways so kids and parents know the carnival will still take place on the scheduled date.
We suggest avoid rescheduling your carnival if unexpected rain or minor weather happens to occur during that day. The key is to have a backup plan as it is difficult to adjust dates for all involved including large rentables, volunteers, and carnival visitors... and this is sure to cost you time & money!
We wrote an entire blog post about what do do if bad weather is expected at outdoor events - check it out!
A third reason families may stay home is if your carnival is interfering with kids extracurricular sports! For example, the spring is generally when softball, baseball and soccer start back up for kids sometime in February.
The best way to deal with kids having games all throughout the day is to make sure your carnival is not on the big all day sports "kick off" day. In addition, plan the duration of your festival or fair be a bit longer - like 4 or 5 hours instead of a 3 hours which will make it easier for families to drop by for a while in between games!
The carnival date you choose is a BIG DEAL! Why? Because your school carnival or fundraising fair success depends on having lots of families (and volunteers) showing up! So if your date has a conflict with other local events, big holidays, or folks think it may be cancelled due to inclement weather this can greatly affect your attendance.
Look at local schools' calendars -- and at all large religious or secular events in your community. Avoid planning your carnival on a day coinciding with proms, homecoming, big dances, big local (and youth) sports events, any three-day weekends, and odd vacation days. January may be a month that families are using to financially recover from the winter holidays, so consider having a carnival in February instead.
And finally, we don't recommend a summer carnival, as some families will be out-of-town for a vacation and volunteers are difficult to find at this time too.This may sound like a lot of restrictions, but every other day could be the perfect opportunity for your next big carnival or festival! Wishing you all the best with your carnival planning! :)