The most exciting and nerve-racking words any promoter can write and say, “We open this week!”
Better than a year of your work, plans, discussions, long hours, revisions, mistakes, inspirations, and burned out moments go into each event.
You want everything to be perfect, but nothing is. You want the happiest participants, employees, and customers. You want the weather to cooperate, and every television, radio, and social media appearance to be a magic wand to the popularity of your event.
Now it is time to pack everything up and move in. The checks are written. The ads have been placed and running. Artists and musicians have long since lined up and are ready to play their parts. Schedules are out to employees.
Now cross your fingers that
1) you didn’t forget anything, and
2) everyone stays healthy and shows up!
It is time to get physical and get it all in place. Hours of set-up and check-ins begin while you try to be friendly, professional, helpful, positive, encouraging.
You try to get the jokes others tell when your mind is concentrating on 50 other details. You try to listen and respond. Smile. Unfurl your shoulders. Un-clinch your jaw. Breathe.
Despite all the nerves, last minute changes, and screw ups, the show always opens, the crowds (you), a blessing to us all, come. We all pull together and somehow it all works!
An 18-day-long event makes your head weary with how long it seems and how fast the time flies–both at the same time.
Are the leaves changing outside? Is it raining as they said it might? Did the temperatures change? You tell yourself you will take a minute to be outside today after 5 days of only seeing the morning and then the night.
A friend made the drive to see your event, to experience it with you. Then a family member came. You walked the floor with them feeling that you cannot possibly see it the way they do. You have seen all of it ten times today alone, and yet you see none of it.
These are all the weird things that go through the minds of the promoters.
Suddenly, you overhear someone laughing. It is someone you have never seen before, but they are here, right in front of you.
You wonder how they came to be here. Did they see an ad? Have they been here before? Will they be coming back? Sometimes you ask, but it is fun to just watch them enjoying themselves.
They are on a break, a vacation, a day off, a time away from whatever else they would normally be doing. They are here at this event that you helped create. They are here enjoying their loved ones and usually doing some clandestine shopping for a surprise.
This one is excited and wants her mother, sister, daughter, or friend to come see. Her husband, dad, brother, boyfriend, or son may be one of the several gentlemen lining the walls, patiently waiting or just taking a break. Maybe he’ll go over here and see what this one is making.
A music show begins. Someone calls your name on the radio that’s either on your hip or in your hand. You have absorbed all of this moment that there is for you.
We are so glad your experience (you, not me), the patron, the artisan, is quite different from ours! We are so glad to hear you laugh and to see your smiling faces. We are so glad to see the many, many positive comments on Facebook. We are thrilled there are families and friends who plan their vacations to Gatlinburg every fall around the dates of our event. We are thankful to see returning craftsmen and new artists coming our way every year.
We are blessed with traditions that we will keep working very hard to continue with you and to build with the next generation. We are in one of the most beautiful places on earth with some of the best people around. Let’s all be sure to enjoy it together. See you soon!