By JEN CARDINES
It may only be January, but the Apple Harvest Festival (AHF) supervisory committee has already taken strides to make the 2017 festival a crowd pleaser. At their first meeting of the year on Jan. 19, the officials gathered with a full agenda.
Southington High School seniors Emily Daley and Sydney Kroll gave a detailed presentation to the committee about the festival’s analytics and strategies to better market the event. The girls are enrolled in Marketing III, a full year course that requires a local research project spanning the entire first semester.
They chose to work on the AHF because it is a familiar event right in town that is widely acknowledged. The project was a culmination of festival strengths and weaknesses, ideas for better promotion, survey data, and more, all based off of professional marketing research methods.
Their promotional angle was designed to draw larger crowds from surrounding areas this year. “Our goal is to help the festival increase their attendance by reaching out to towns throughout Connecticut,” Daley and Kroll’s summary stated.
Festival coordinator Jim Champagne presented his report and predicted that the 2017 festival will be an excellent event. “During the last nine years, we’ve had 1,836 instances of volunteerism—that’s people coming back year after year—to give up their time,” he said, “and we still get 175 to 200 volunteers each year.”
The committee also brainstormed new features to introduce this year, such as Wi-Fi throughout the festival, increased social media outlets, an updated website, and videos projected on the main screen.
In his report Champagne said, “in order to gain more revenue from booth fees, we have added three 15 by 15 feet booths on Riccio Way, replacing one of the three 20 by 40 feet booths.” This is predicted to generate over $5,000.
At the Dec. 12, 2016 Town Council meeting, councilor Tom Lombardi, co-chair of the AHF committee, reported that the committee hired Walsh Public Relations (WalshPR) to be their new sponsorship coordinator for the 2017 event.
“This individual was very impressive in the interview process,” Lombardi said. “He has all the event experience and exposure to national sponsors we were looking for…We are looking forward to a very successful 2017 endeavor.”
WalshPR designed a four-tiered sponsorship plan (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) which mimics the sponsor levels that have always been in place, and new elements. The significant difference for platinum sponsors is the size of the booth and its location. They are also working on social media elements and a new website which is part of the budget.
In years past, the platinum sponsorship included being a parade sponsor, but the company separated it for different sponsors. Half of the committee was unaware of the previous arrangement, but after clarification they agreed that separating the sponsors is in the festival’s (and sponsors’) best interest.
The committee will continue to meet monthly in order to prepare for the 2017 Apple Harvest Festival.
For more information or sponsorship, visit www.southington.org/ahf.