So today was the main event! I had the opportunity to attend the Fest Forums NYC conference down in lower Manhattan and hear all about the future of where music, film, and food festivals are headed in the coming years. It was an event geared mainly towards the producers of these various types of festivals, but was a wealth of knowledge and a great way to do some networking!

Each of the panels was just as interesting as the previous one, and the panelists were very friendly to chat with after their topic of discussion was over. I learned a lot about the importance of sponsorships and how to give the sponsors what they are looking for in regards to return for their investments, as well as creating a positive experience for the attendees to take home whatever information or products the sponsors are looking to get out to the masses.  There was another panel about the talent buying process and how to create your festival’s identity among the vast amounts of competition out there. It was interesting to catch a glimpse into the food, and film festival’s world in terms of talent buying, which for them means Celebrity Chefs, or choosing which films fit the festival’s theme or social message for that year. Very interesting to see things from a perspective other than music festivals!

After a quick lunch and some more networking, it was right back to the panels. The Safety & Security moderator was a familiar face…Gathering of the Vibes own Jackie Eaton lead the panelists through some great discussions about safety at the festivals. Some of the topics discussed included emergency weather preparation, and how to plan for any event that mother nature throws at you, as well as things like training medical staff to handle the various complications they may face at events, and at what point local police forces should be called in for help vs. handling things internally. Obviously the last thing a festival wants is negative press due to something that could have been easily avoided…a few festivals that have now gone by the wayside come to mind…perhaps those events would still be around had they been prepared!

Next up was an interesting topic about disrupting how to approach sponsorships and how to shake things up while building and promoting your brand. Although a short discussion, it was a very poignant one packed with great information from IEG’s own Lesa Ukman.

Finishing out the day was an interesting panel about technology and how it plays a role in the festival world. Everything from ticketing to RFID wristbands to better track which shows your patrons are attending was discussed. Again it was interesting to see some of the struggles that the food and film industry have in regards to ticketing at their festivals. But what I found most interesting was what VP of Business Development at Live Nation, Matthew Belkin, had to say about technology’s role in the future of festivals. Live streaming was also talked about, and I was able to take away some great ideas of content to bring to those sitting at home rather than at the event.

After the final panel about the future of Film Festivals, there was a cocktail party sponsored again by Lagunitas and Antelope Island Rum where I had a chance to do some more networking, and meet some great people. I had a chance to chat with the distiller of Antelope Island Rum for a bit, and talk about his new business venture based out of Salt Lake City. Also had a chance to chat with the owner of OTW Safety which provides barricades at events that can also be used as advertising space…a very inventive way to handle crowd control, that is also practical and visually appealing. I met a few former union rugby players from the UK that were bringing a Union Rugby franchise to Toronto in 2017…Go Wolfpack!

All in all it was a great day! I learned a ton of information and had a chance to connect with some folks that I never would have imagined meeting. It was great to see some familiar faces as well, and I’m looking forward to the opportunities that will come from attending this event!

Going to do the long drive home now though, so that’s it for now.