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HOW TO ORGANISE A VEGAN FAIR OR FESTIVAL

Thanks for taking an interest in organising vegan fairs or festivals.
 
Unless you are a celebrity, national TV documentary maker, or national media journalist who can influence a large number of people very easily, no form of vegan activism can create more new vegans in a single day or weekend than a vegan festival or fair, with as many as roughly 5-10% of big festival attendees going vegan as a result of them, surveys have shown, because no form of vegan activism can educate people in such a broad way as lots of vegan food, stalls, talks, films, cookery demos, free food samples, free recipe booklets and other literature, vegan musicians, speed meeting and dating (people are more likely to stay vegan if they meet vegan friends and partners), and so on.
 
These events also recruit a lot of new members for local and national vegan and animal rights groups, raise money for them, and for rescue centres, help vegan businesses to grow in size, and increase their numbers, turn some people vegetarian, and influence others to eat more vegan foods, surveys have shown, so everything about them is positive.
 
 
Venue
 
Try to find a venue which is:
 
In a town or city centre.
 
Near to the train, bus, and coach stations.
 
In or close to the main shopping area.
 
In a busy street, so you can get good passing trade on the day.
 
It is not always possible to get an ideal venue which fits all of the above criteria, but book the venue which is closest to the above ideal one.
 
You also need one which is:
 
Disabled friendly.
 
If there is a nearby vegetarian, vegan, or craft beer/real ale type pub or bar, you can always ask them to be a 2nd venue, and to organise a vegan beer festival, or even a vegan beer, cider, and wine festival as part of your event, which is an extra attraction, and helps to educate people about one of the subjects which vegans do not understand well (which drinks are vegan). You can find out here which ones are: www.barnivore.com).
 
You can also book a venue which has its own alcohol licence, or which allows stallholders to get a 1 or 2 day TENS licence from the local council to sell alcohol.
 
Also make sure to find out:
 
Absolutely all of the costs of the venue before you book, including the size of any deposit they require, and any electricity charges, which the vast majority of venues don't have.
 
If the venue can cope with your electricity needs for your caterers in particular.
 
If you are doing a charity event, if they have a charity hire rate.
 
Check if they allow outside caterers, and if they allow live cooking on trestle tables, with electricity, or in a kitchen they have, Venues do not like cooking with gas or naked flames on tables, for obvious fire hazard reasons, but caterers might be able to use gas in a venue kitchen.
 
See if you can use any outdoor areas they have for food vans, stalls in gazebos or marquees, talks and films in marquees, music on a covered up stage, and any other outdoor attractions you can think of.
 
A venue which allows you to have indoor or outdoor children's activities is always useful, as parents like to go round stalls, go to talks, etc. while their children are being kept safely and securely entertained.
 
You also obviously need a venue with a live music licence if you plan to have music at your event, and with the relevant licence for DJ's if you want to have those.
 
Make sure to be certain how many stalls you can fit into the venue, and try to leave space for the public to walk around without overcrowding, and for a cafe area, so people can enjoy eating and drinking while sitting down. If they enjoy the event they will come again.
 
You also need to check with your local council if they require you to pay a market licence. The vast majority don't, but a few do, Manchester and Sheffield for example, and they can stop your event if you have not paid. Charity events may get a cheaper rate.
 
Finally, if you have not done a vegan fair or festival before, it's best to book a small venue the 1st time. You can increase the size of your venue and event each time you do one, as you gradually learn how to organise events, and as your potential stallholders mailing list increases.
 
Church halls and Friends Meeting Houses are good cheap options for 1st time events, as are venues which have flea markets and jumble sales.
 
 
Picking the right date
 
Try not to pick a date which clashes with other festivals or fairs near you, as fewer people may come to both events, and as both events will have fewer stallholders if you do, and try not to clash with with any big festivals, unless they are for example at the other end of the country, as otherwise it will reduce the numbers of stalls at both events.
 
You can do this by looking at the below calendars before you book your venue. You need to check all of them to be more or less sure you are not clashing. A few small event organisers don't post their events on any of these sites, but the vast majority of them do:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Once you have checked that your event does not clash with other ones, and you have booked the venue, you can send all of the event details, including of course the website, if you have one, and the Facebook to the above calendars, which may also get your event in the Viva!, Animal Aid, and Vegan Society quarterly magazine event listings, unless it very small, or you book your venue less than 3 months before the event, which is in any case unwise, as you need 6 months or more to organise a new one properly, particularly if it is a big one.
 
If you are doing a large event, which will attract stallholders from a long distance, it is best to avoid December-February, because of the danger of snow and ice stopping stallholders, cookery demonstrators, and speakers getting there.
 
December-February is OK for small fairs with just local stalls, speakers, and cookery demonstrators.
 
April-October events are best though, particularly for large festivals, as winter storms can have a much bigger impact on the turnout than ordinary rain, as for example they can disrupt train services.
 
 
Booking in stalls, and getting sponsors
 
If you are doing these events for the first time, you can always invite stallholders from the events nearest to you, and then gradually build up your mailing list over time, and of course you can invite all of the local vegan and vegetarian/vegan businesses, vegan, vegetarian/vegan, and animal rights groups, animal rescue centres, and health food shops, and all of the national vegan and animal rights groups, who sometimes recruit local volunteers to run stalls at small fairs (they only send their paid staff to big festivals).
 
Find out which stalls need electricity, and make a map of the venue's plug points.
 
Invite stallholders to sponsor your event, which helps to pay for your leaflets, posters, Facebook ads, and other publicity costs.
 
You can offer a much higher rate to be on all of the leaflets and posters, and in any event programme, as well as on the website and in Facebook posts, and a much lower rate to be on just the website and in Facebook posts.
 
You can also ask Animal Aid, the US vegan group VegFund, who sponsor some UK events and are keen to sponsor more, and the Vegan Society for sponsorship, but you have to submit your Vegan Society sponsorship application form before the quarterly meetings at which they decide which events to sponsor, which is one of the reasons you need 6 months or more to do a new event.
 
VegFund sponsorship can involve far more money than you will get from any UK group, but you have to fill out a long application form, and send them photos of your event, and other info about your it, after which they will pay you an amount they will offer you before your event if you apply in good time.
 
 
Booking in speakers and cookery demonstrators
 
Ask your stallholders, local vegan businesses, and local vegan and animal rights groups if they would like to do a talk or cookery demo.
 
For bigger events, ask national vegan and animal rights groups to do talks and cookery demos.
 
Make sure any travelling expenses are agreed when you arrange the talk or demo.
 
 
Table, marquee hire, and audiovisual hire
 
If you have to hire some or all of the tables for your event, or marquees, ask local furniture and marquee hire companies for marquee and 6 foot trestle table quotes, and get these hired as soon as you book the venue. If you try to do this at the last minute, companies may not be able to provide them.
 
Check that your venue can store the marquee and tables from the Friday when companies like to deliver, to the Monday when they like to collect (Sunday collection is sometimes possible, so check that with the company too).
 
Find out when you hire, when the company will deliver and collect, and then confirm the days and times over a week before the event.
 
Also check if the venue will let you set up the tables and marquee the day before/night before/the morning of the event, so you know they can be set up in time, as you will have a lot to do on the morning of your event.
 
If you need to hire a marquee, please bear in mind that they can take the hire company several hours to set up.
 
Make sure to have all of the right audiovisual equipment for talks and films (screen, projector, HDMI and VGI laptop cables, and possibly laptop, though it is better to ask speakers to bring their own), and someone who knows to set up and work the AV.
 
Some venues have in house AV, so make sure to ask them.
 
 
Publicising your event
 
There are a range of ways of promoting your event, and to maximise your turnout, it is best to try to use all of the ones you can.
 
 
Leaflets and posters
 
If you do not have someone to design them, these can be designed and printed cheaply, and delivered to your home, all in under 2 weeks, by Vegan Print near Blackpool, one of the cheapest design and printing services in the UK, who guarantee your flyers and posters will be printed with vegetable based ink, not the animal based ink some printers use.
 
About one third of UK vegan festivals and fairs use this company, who will also design and print vegan festival programmes very cheaply, if you need those for a large event
 
The number of leaflets can range from 10,000 for a small local fair to hundreds of thousands in the case of the biggest festivals, and the number of posters can also range from 50 to 1000 or more, depending on the size of the event.
 
Try to get them into all of the local vegan, vegetarian, and health food places, and if possible, vegan friendly places, as well as into every local shop, cafe, restaurant, takeaway, library, community centre, pub, bar, nightclub. taxi office, or other place which will allow people to put up posters and/or leave flyers
 
If you are organising a large event, you may want to try to get them into all of the vegan, vegetarian, and health food places within as much as a 50 mile radius from your venue.
 
If you know a student at a local university or college, you can also get them into university halls of residence, student unions, onto student union, university department, and college noticeboards.
 
If you are aiming your event heavily at students, who have been shown to far more likely to be vegetarian or vegan than the general public, and who are easier to convert to veganism than the general public, according to the US group Vegan Outreach, who hand out millions of their go vegan booklets to students in particular, make sure of course that your event is in term time.
 
Door to door flyering can be very useful in some areas with a relatively high percentage of vegetarians and vegans, which you can see by checking which areas have clusters of vegetarian/vegan and vegan eateries, and which areas have a big student population, but much less useful in others.
 
Leafletting at vegan demos and stalls can be very useful, as most of the people who stop at these demos and stalls are vegetarians, who come in large numbers to vegan events, and are often looking for info to help them to convert.
 
You can also leaflet at, or outside nearby vegan festivals and fairs.
 
Make sure your leaflets and posters say "Find us on Facebook", with the Facebook symbol, and include all of the key event info, including the website address.
 
 
Facebook page and website
 
Unless you are organising a large event, you are best off with just a Facebook page.
 
Make sure all of the local vegan, vegetarian, animal rights, animal rescue centre, and health food shop Facebook pages know about it, and all such places which do not have Facebook pages.
 
Make sure to ask everyone on your Facebook to invite all of their friends when you get close to the event.
 
Big festivals can also of course have Twitter accounts, and YouTube channels, as well as obviously websites.
 
Make all advertising, printed or online, colourful, attractive, and easy to read.
 
 
Facebook ads
 
Essential for big festivals, who can spend £1000 or more on a series of ads, and can sometimes be helpful for smaller events, and worth the money you pay for your 2 line ad and photo of, for example, cute animals or appetising food, to get posted on all of the Facebook pages with particular key words like vegan, vegetarian, and animal rights, within the radius (in miles) you specify from the venue.
 
Wait until 3 months before your event before running 1 or more ads.
 
 
Library displays
 
Email all of the local libraries and ask if you can do a "vegetarian/vegan" recipes display for 2 weeks, a month, etc. Often they will say yes, and you can then ask Viva!, Animal Aid, the Vegan Society, and PETA for vegan recipe and nutrition booklets and leaflets. You can put your event flyers in among the other literature, a lot of which will be taken, so make sure to put out plenty of your flyers, and of the recipe and nutrition booklets and leaflets, as you can arrange to collect any leftover literature after the display ends.
 
 
Free food stalls
 
These can attract a lot of people if you do them in a busy street, make big, laminated, weather proof signs saying that you are giving out FREE VEGAN CHOCOLATE, FREE VEGAN ICE CREAM, FREE VEGAN FOOD, etc. and you can then give event and general vegan leaflets to all of the people who approach you.
 
 
Mag ads
 
Only worth advertising in a national vegan, vegetarian, or animal rights mag if your event is big enough for people to want to travel to it from a long distance.
 
 
Press releases
 
For bigger events you need to send out 4 press releases, starting with one 4 months before, because magazines plan their articles up to 4 months ahead, with the last press release 2 weeks before the event.
 
You can use a modified version of the same template each time
 
For a small fair, you need to send a press release 2 weeks before the event, and send out an initial one 4 months before..
 
Contact all of the local newspapers, news and other relevant magazines, radio stations, and news and other relevant websites.
 
Try to keep it to 1 page, as journalists don't have time for long ones, keep your paragraphs short, as long paragraphs are less likely to be read properly, add a photo, perhaps of the organisers in animal costumes outside the venue, or of cute animals, or appetising looking food which an event caterer will be selling, explain clearly what will be at the event, and include its Facebook and website addresses, and all of your contact details, as the local media may want to ask you questions for an article, feature, or interview.
 
Make sure to stress anything free which the public can get at the event, anything about the event which will be fun, the nice food and drink they can buy or try at the event, and any vegan alcoholic drinks they will be able to buy, so that local media can report that attendees will have a good time, will be able to try lots of free food, buy other nice food, do speed dating, etc.
 
Extra info about for example vegan celebrities (check that online claims about them are backed up with proper evidence, like an interview with the person concerned, a statement on their website, or on a national vegan group's website) can go at the end of your press release under a "Note to editors" heading. Local media may realise that such facts will interest their readers or listeners.
 
Make sure that your press release reads well, and of course that there are no spelling mistakes or other errors.
 
 
Free food
 
Ask all of your potential stallholders if they can provide free food samples and company literature for your event. These are a good way to promote veganism, to attract people to your event, and to help vegan companies to get more customers. Bute Island cheese will always send you samples. Make sure to send companies your Facebook, and website if you have one, when you ask for samples.
 
 
Volunteers
 
Make sure to start asking on the Facebook for volunteers to help at the event over a month in advance, and also ask your friends, fellow activists, relatives, etc., and send the volunteers you get as a result a rota and your full contact details 2 weeks before the event, with the times when the volunteers who will be setting up the event, clearing up after the event, working on the door, collecting litter, giving out your flyers in the street on the day of the event, going out in animal costumes with those leafletters on the day of the event, running talks, cookery demos, and films rooms (and making sure the AV equipment is not stolen), working as traffic marshals, running the children's room or area, and doing any other jobs you need doing will be working.
 
Appoint 1 or more people to be in charge of volunteers on the day of the event.
 
Print out copies of the volunteers rota for the door table and all organisers.
 
 
Stallholders, speakers, cookery demonstrators, musicians, and DJ's info
 
Make sure to send all of these people all of the info they need for the event 2 weeks in advance (the location of their stall if it is a big event with a stall plan, parking details, including the nearest car parks to the venue, and their prices and locations, both of which are is on Parkopedia, the time stallholders can unload from, where they can unload, the address and postcode of the venue, what time their talk, cookery demo, gig, or DJ set is, and exactly where, wording for a Facebook post they can create to publicise the event, all of your contact info, any venue regulations they need to know, the need to bring extensions leads and plug adaptors, and so on).
 
Try to space out caterers if there is any possibility your venue might not have a good enough electricity supply for them to be close together, or you will blow fuses, and to keep popular caterers away from other stalls, in a cafe area perhaps, so people do not queue for that caterer's food in front of other stalls.
 
 
Setting up the event
 
Set up the marquee, set up the tables, put a couple of chairs behind each one, and put the stall names on them, as early as the venue will allow you to, 2 days in advance if you are lucky.
 
Set up the cafe area tables and chairs as early as the venue will allow you to.
 
Set up the talks, films, and cookery demos room(s), and the children's room or area, as well as any music stage or area, as early as the venue will allow you to.
 
Put out the free food out on the morning of the event, with the product packaging and any company literature next to the plates of food, sample cups of vegan milks, etc.
 
Set up the door table, get a float the day before the event or earlier, and put that and the cash tin on the door table shortly before you open the doors, as well as the hand stamps.
 
Make sure to have rubbish bags under or by the door table for litter collectors.
 
Put any programmes on the door table to hand out as people come in.
 
Put laminated, weather proof signs outside the venue telling people that there is a vegan fair or festival on that day. Stick them to wooden boards, or they may blow over in the wind.
 
Put lots of signs up inside telling people where the talks room is, children's area, and so on. The further apart rooms are, the more signs you need. Programmes can include venue maps, but people don't read programmes very closely a lot of the time, so you need lots of signs everywhere.