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Planning for an event's demise

Written by Linda Kirkpatrick on .

Listening to a good friend of mine talk about business plans for the future, I found myself bringing up that point no one really wants to discuss – dying. Both she and her husband are already at or past retirement age, and these plans involved making commitments for three to ten years or more. I pointed out that fulfilling those obligations would be dependent on their both being alive, and I hadn’t heard any mention about ‘what if….'

I know there’s something to be said for optimism, but being realistic needs to be part of any good business plan.  

This relates in a way to recurring events in Evergreen. There are quite a few touting big anniversaries this year and next. Just as appliances become obsolete and the lifetime of a shopping center oftentimes ends when the mortgage has been paid in full, even the most popular of events run their course.

Sometimes the lot needs to be scraped clean to make way for new construction.

One respected member of the community posed a question to me at an event a month or so ago, wondering if the once-popular event had reached that point. Attendance was down by about 20 percent.

Keeping something new and fresh after 25 years is an ongoing challenge that many volunteers work hard to address; but let’s face it, people like something new and different after awhile.

Decreasing attendance is usually the first sign.  However, as Dick Wulf reminded me this evening, having an event become too popular can also bring about its demise, i.e., Fourth of July fireworks prior to the 1990s.  They were free, but firefighters passed the boot for donations.  While designed for the community, unwanted publicity brought in many people from out of town causing day-long parties on the golf course, damage to the greens and unbelievable safety issues when it came to parking.

Bigger is not always better.

Unique events – initially quite popular – are diminished by competing events that replicate certain aspects of that event. And new ideas age over time.

There’s a lot of competition for how people can spend their time and their money these days. When some of these events started 25-plus years ago, the opportunities in Evergreen were fewer. The community looked forward to attending the big two or three annual events that had sprouted up. Now there might be competing events on a single weekend, and there might be similar events within an easy drive.

Sports team demands keep many a willing parent and grandparent from attending fun events nowadays. It used to be one knew not to plan an event on a Sunday because of church services. That was modified to provide for watching professional football. Now a family calendar is dictated by athletic practice or games for every prospective athlete old enough to walk.

My point is: organizations need to calculate for an end (planned or unplanned) to their most popular events if the organizations are to survive.  At least have a contingency plan.  It takes realistic leaders to figure an event's demise into an organization's long-term plan.