Corporate and Special Event Planning

Stewart Park Festival

Stewart Park Festival
On a hot hot day in July ….no it’s not the start of the Raffi song… I arrived to start the venue décor setup for the Crystal Palace at the Stewart Park Festival. Now with a humidex making it feel like 46 degrees or something ridiculous like that, I neglected to think how it was going to feel inside an all glass building.  I was suddenly wishing I was a speckled frog ready to jump into the pond… 
Nestled on the banks of the Tay in the historic town of Perth, the Crystal Palace is one of the after-hours venues during the annual Stewart Park Festival.  It was a great opportunity to showcase ITM, and how we could execute a décor plan to compliment this already attractive space. To reflect the natural beauty of the all glass space, (once upon a time a bus shelter from Rideau St. in Ottawa), I planned a garden party theme.  
The stage was located at one end of the space, with the bar at the opposite end.  Utilizing the 70+ paper lanterns in ITM’s stock, along with white party light strands, this would be the start of our canopy/ceiling plans.  Next would be to incorporate some colour.  With purple and orange being the colours of the festival this year, I purchased 100ft. rolls of plastic table clothing to drape from the ceiling above the dance floor, and did tissue paper flowers as centerpieces on the tables with clothespin tealight holders.  Thinking these centerpieces were easily moveable and could not break or be damaged during the teardown and resets over the course of the weekend.  
Adding in some cruiser tables with under lighting and LED lights for under the bar as well as behind the stage to illuminate our paper lantern backdrop, and then plenty of potted trees, shrubs and annuals for around the stage, it should complete our look for the after dark start time. 
So through 2 days of blasting heat, up and down ladders to hang everything, and a number of very dedicated volunteers that assisted me (that enable this festival to remain a 3 day free event), it was complete. 
In that moment it is perfect, you feel that sense of elation and nausea (from dehydration or heat stroke) and it is ready for people to enjoy.  Good thing for photos, because after 3 days of numerous tear downs and resets….it didn’t look so perfect anymore. 
Along with a high humidex in July comes the risk of thunderstorms and high winds, and once the venue doors were all opened, 12 in all, there was a great breeze through the space.  I am sure the performers and attendees appreciated the breeze, but, some of the décor elements did not. Now don’t get me wrong it still looked pretty good for the last evening of music, but in being able to plan again, there are things I would do differently.  Being able to consider the challenges of weather, teardowns and resets for 3 days of events in the space, no storage to house items needed for later, like extra batteries and tablecloths, the number of trips up and down ladders to hang things, and the time consumed by doing that, how the heat effected people climbing up and down ladders, moving potted plants in and out, etc. 

I am proud of the finished project and the number of compliments received.  That is the joy of being a planner:  to consider what went well and what you would do differently next time, it is always a learning experience.  Most people don’t even notice the little things that may bother you as a planner. I think we all wish for an unlimited budget and amount of time to make it even more perfect in our minds eye.

Angela VanWingerden is a focused logistics dynamo with nearly 20 years of experience in the events industry. Since obtaining her BA of Commerce in Hospitality from the University of Guelph in 1998, she has built an impressive portfolio of weddings, corporate events and fundraisers for hundreds of satisfied clients. Angela enjoys the entire event planning process from chaos to order and back again. An avid trouble-shooter, Angela has her finger on the pulse of every event she manages. When on-site, she constantly monitors every element of the event to ensure client satisfaction. Angela works closely with staff and volunteers to ensure that they know what their duties are and she provides oversight at the event itself to ensure that all responsibilities and expectations are met. When she isn’t designing and coordinating awe-inspiring events, Angela loves spending time with her family.

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