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Home > Craft Topics > Event Organising

How to Organise a Craft Event

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Looking to organise a craft event? My name is Emma Brown and I would like to help you to make your event a success. 
With so many craft workers looking for outlets and shoppers seeking ‘different’ gifts – now is a good time to organise an event.

Introduction

Unfortunately, the following has had to be added due to a lot of our regular organisers complaining about the way some people have behaved!!!

Etiquette - there are lots of established event organisers who have worked very hard and gained good reputations for organising well run events - do not try to step on anyone's toes by taking over established events / venues / poaching traders etc. There are too many fly by night event organisers who do this to try and make some quick money - remember that crafters communicate with each other - word very quickly spreads and not only will your reputation be tarnished but you are endangering the future of further events organised by yourself and the reputable organiser.
If event organising is something you are interested in then do your own work to gain your own reputation - don't disrespect the hard work of others!!! 

Step by Step Event Organising

Indoor or Outdoor event?

Outdoor Events

If you are looking at an outdoor event then there are council parks / grass areas / farmers fields that can be hired at a reasonable cost, however, you will also have to consider public access, parking, toilets etc. Larger events may include catering vans / bouncy castle hire, marquees etc. Not to mention the unpredictable weather
.
Indoor Events
Indoor events have the advantage of not relying on the weather, the only disadvantages are that you are not as exposed i.e. cars passing a field of stalls will usually stop for a look.

Location
Whether indoor or outdoor – choose your location wisely. A farmer’s field off a dirt track or a town hall down a side street will not attract the customers. Of course, a well advertised event will help if your location is not a prime one. Do not necessarily go for the cheapest option if you have an alternative
.

Venue
The venue you choose is the most important factor. Firstly, you have to decide on what size of event you wish to organise. If you want a small local one then perhaps a village hall or church is suitable. A larger event may require a council hall, exhibition centre or a farmer’s field. This is your biggest expense and in order for your event to be a success, and for it to succeed should you repeat it again, then your venue has to please the majority. 
Traders require:
for indoor events – warmth, easy access for unloading etc, toilets, food retail to hand
for outdoor events – toilet facilities, easy access i.e. not sinking in mud! food retail to hand
Customers require – easy parking, easy access for prams / wheelchairs
Make a list of two or three venues that you think would be suitable
.

Duration
How long will your event last? Most of the smaller events run for one day or two usually a Saturday and Sunday. While others can run for 5 –7 days. Again it depends on your venue and location. An event being run in your local church hall would be ideal for a Saturday event. An exhibition centre may be more beneficial to run for a week. Whilst many places will give a discount for longer hire periods you have to decide whether it is required. 
Times will also depend on your location. A weekend event usually runs 10am – 5pm on a Saturday and 11am – 4pm on a Sunday. Again this will depend on where your event is taking place – a city event or Christmas event may benefit from late night shopping
.

Dates
When do you want to run your event? Obviously, if your event is outdoor then you would be safer having it in the late spring / summer although this is still not a guarantee for nice weather. If this is your first event you may want to try a small one first rather than go straight into the busy Christmas events. You will also want to look into other events going on around the same time. There may be a country fayre or a wedding fayre being organised the same weekend in the same or neighbouring town. Obviously, you will not be able to know of every event running in your area, but tourist information / local papers etc are a good way of finding out.
Other events are not necessarily bad. Some can work to your advantage i.e. shoppers visiting one event may have to pass yours and therefore ‘pop in’. Larger events may bring in a lot of tourists to your town for the ‘weekend’ who would not necessarily be there any other time of the year.

Legal Requirements
When organising any event you will have to ensure that you have the proper cover. In most instances this is public liability insurance. Which will cover you against damage / injury to property and public. You can ask an insurance broker to find the best deal for you.
Make sure that you fill in all forms correctly and ensure that every aspect of your event is covered. Most venue hirers will not allow you to book an event unless you can prove you are insured up to a certain value i.e. £1 million. You can of course have extra cover by ensuring that your traders have proof of their own liability insurance so that damage / injury caused by their products or stall is their own responsibility. However, you will still have to have your own insurance for your event and the venue.
You will also require electrical test certificates for any electrical equipment, as will your traders.
If serving food – you or the catering company will have to have their own insurance and health and safety certificates.
Ensure that any traders demonstrating with machinery or entertainers working with children have the proper paperwork. Remember you are the organiser, if you are not happy with the traders standards or their products then you have the right to refuse them entry
.

MARKET OPERATOR LICENCE

All UK event organisers are required by law to obtain a market operators license (this is available from your local council, licensing department). Any organiser who is planning an event at which goods are offered by more that one seller for sale by retail to the public must obtain a license; whether your venue is indoor or outdoor.
Only events organised solely by a registered charity where ALL monies shall be going to charity shall be expempt.
There are mainly two types of license 6 week and a 3 year (although some councils may differ).
If you organise events in various venues then you will require a license for EACH venue.
As said, all councils vary with their terms so contact your local licensing department for their requirements.

Hiring
Ok so now you have decided on the venue, location and dates. Next step is to book it. Find out who owns the venue / land i.e. local farmer / council and make contact. Some hirers will send you forms via post to fill in whilst others may wish to see you in person – every hirer is different. As are costs – some will have a set price, other establishments may require a donation etc. If you are running your event to raise money for charity then mention this as some establishments may have different rates. Only book one event – do not go mad and book every weekend for the year until you know that the event can be an ongoing success. Ensure that you have your booking confirmed and that you have in writing contact details and confirmation etc.

What are you organising?
A craft fayre can be anything from a few tables in a hall to a full blown exhibition with demonstrations, activities etc. There are many other ‘accessories’ that can be added to your event, simply by looking in your local yellow pages or approaching local businesses – a café, raffle / tombola, craft demonstrations, competitions, Santa’s grotto, bouncy castle, fairground rides, catering van, entertainers, face painting etc. Many of the above can be arranged free of charge or on commission i.e. contact the owner of the service and offer them free space for providing their service or arrange that they give you 10% of their profits made during the event. Although you need to cover your overheads it is also about providing a good event to your traders and customers. If a service enhances your event and brings in more customers then do not get greedy!

Traders Charges
How much you charge your traders will also depend on your overall expenses. Work out the cost of hiring your venue, advertising costs and other overheads and how many traders you can accommodate.
However, a little common sense can go a long way. If this is your first (small) event then you may not wish to overcharge. Small fayres can vary from £10 - £40 a day. Larger events can be £50 - £200 a day! Take into consideration, where your event will take place, how many visitors you expect to attract, how many traders you can accommodate etc
. 

Customer charges
A lot of events nowadays charge an entrance fee, which can help towards your expenses. Of course, many are free admission, but customers will also be willing to give a donation at the door or pay a set price depending on what you are offering them for their money. This is also a good way of counting how many customers you attract.

Staff
If you are charging at the door or running a raffle etc then you may require extra staff; friends and family can be a great, cheap way of getting help. Traders who you know and trust may also be able to help out. If you sell your own crafts do not expect to run your stall, your job is to be there for the traders and public, not selling crafts. You can however, ask fellow traders to tend your stall on the basis of them having a free space or discount
.

Advertising
There are many forms of advertising, which can be free, or of little expense. Where to advertise depends on your event. I.e. if you are organising a small event then local advertising is required, whereas, a large event may require national advertising. Remember to add a contact number or web link to your advert for customer and trade enquiries.
Below are some examples of advertising:

Newspapers – local newspapers and / or national newspapers, some are free, some charge per word / column etc. Choose the right paper that covers your area and requirements. Your ad will also depend on your event, i.e. does your event require a few lines of information or a full-page colour advertisement?

Fliers – Leaflet drops can be beneficial, ideal if your friends and family can help out, again the flier depends on your event i.e. a black and white photocopy or a glossy printed leaflet?

Street advertising - Some organisers hand out leaflets in the street, attach posters to lampposts, have stakes in the ground at major roundabouts etc – these are all excellent cheap ways of advertising but some councils may frown upon these – don’t be surprised if all are removed. If you have a ‘nice’ council then ensure that all your posters / stakes etc are removed immediately after the event. If your event is large then it is worthwhile contacting the council asking permission or even the AA to request road signs
.

Radio advertising – local or national radio stations, some offer free advertising for charity events. There are still many people who listen to the radio!

Shops / Libraries – A4 posters displayed in local shops / libraries, some may allow you to display for free, some may charge. Again your poster will depend on your event. Computer designed printed posters are ideal for small events
.

Online – there are many web sites online where you can advertise events free of charge. This includes our own web site Walkabout Crafts. We will be happy to advertise your event on our events page, free of charge
.

Banners from Walkabout Crafts Banners – You can display these at major roundabouts / junctions into your town or outside your event venue. Again, you may require permission from the council, or owner of land / property you are attaching your banners to. 

Traders
You will automatically attract traders through advertising your event via the ways above.
Traders must know exactly what they are booking. When a trader contacts you will have to send them full information; do you want all contact via email, telephone or post. By law you have to provide your full contact details i.e. name / address / telephone number, however, it may cheaper to organise traders information via email or online. 
If you do not have a website and would like us to provide a page online for your event information and booking form then let us know and we will happily add it for you FREE of charge. This will enable you to use a web link on your advertising, allow traders to print off information and send to you via email or post.
Ensure that payments are made and cleared before the event, unless it is a small event, where you know the traders, who will pay on the day. 
Having prebooked spaces allows you to plan where you are going to position each stall. You can also have a short list in case of cancellations. 
Ensure that you state on your booking form the need for traders to have their own public liability / electrical certificates. If a trader does not have public liability then make sure that they sign the booking form stating that any injury / damage caused by their own goods / stall will be their responsibility
.

Planning
Once you have all your spaces booked and cheques are cleared, you can start to plan your layout i.e. if you have two jewellery stalls then space them far apart from each other. Make up a table plan and on the day either tape it onto the entrance door or put labels on each of the tables so that traders know where they are. You will also need to send out full information and a receipt to all traders, usually a couple of weeks before the event itself, this will ensure that they know the rules of the venue and your own requirements. E.g
. 

Please find attached information for the ??? event. The address of the event is: ???. There are parking spaces available at ???
The hall will be open for traders as follows:
Set up Saturday 28th from 9am, opens to public 10am, closes to public 5pm
Opens 9am Sunday 29th, opens to public 10am, pack up from 5pm
You do not need to pack up at the end of each night. The hall is secured at the end of each day.
Anyone displaying posters on walls please use white tac only. 
There will be a table plan displayed on the doors to the hall when you arrive.
Electricity is provided. Please bring with you copies of your liability insurance and / or electrical certificates, just in case any authorities wish to visit.
There is a table approx 6ft x 2ft and two chairs provided per space. Please do not move tables as we have to keep certain space allowances between tables for ‘health and safety’. 
You will need to bring your own tablecloth, however, please ensure customers cannot trip over the ends! 
Please take all rubbish home at night and ensure all electrical equipment has been turned off.
Refunds will only be given for any cancellations made before 10th November. 
Enquiries please contact ???

Your Role
As an organiser your job is providing an event for traders to sell and customers to visit. You cannot be held responsible for lack of sales or visitors – providing that you have advertised and organised the event well. Of course the traders are also your customers as they have paid you therefore treat them with respect. 
You will however find that there are some traders who will moan and groan and hold you responsible for everything; whether that it is the weather or the recession! 
This is the down side of being an event organiser! There will always be one trader who seems to go out of their way to antagonize you! Be strong and confident, if they have paid £10 for their stall and moaning because you had not put a full page ad in the newspaper costing £2000 - then point this out. 
You don’t have to be rude or nasty but you are in your right to point out what they have paid for and that they are being too demanding. 
I have organised events for many years and am also in contact with other event organisers and I do not know of anyone who has had a moan free event! Don’t get me wrong I am not trying to put you off – rather to prepare you for what could be
.  
No matter how much time, effort, money you spend organising an event – it will never be good enough for some people! 

Your Event
Now that your event is organised you are set to go! Make sure you take with you the basics i.e. sticky tape, scissors, paper, pens etc as you never know what you may need. Of course, like weddings, something will always go wrong, but if you have organised your event well then it will not be something due to your lack of preparation. 
If your event was a success then why not organise another one – book the same venue, try a different venue, try a different time of year etc – there is no limit to what you can organise
.
As with any job, your events will only succeed if you have a good reputation. There are hundreds of event organisers out there who are just in it for the money. However, you will find that most of these organisers are null and void within a year due to word of mouth! 
Of course we all wish to make a profit but not at the expense of your reputation. Traders go to lots of events throughout the year and speak to other traders. If you offer a good service to your traders and show that you are going that extra mile then you are guaranteed a full house at every event you organise.
It costs nothing to go round during the event introducing yourself and having a ‘chat’ or to help a trader carry a box etc. Creating a friendly, happy atmosphere rubs off on traders and customers alike!

Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself and your reputation shall surpass you!

If there are any queries that have not been covered or if you feel our web site can assist you in any way then please get in touch
.

Walkabout Crafts is set up to encourage and promote crafts. We are a non-profit, non-funded business. If you have found this information helpful then please recommend us to fellow traders, friends and family.

Alternatively, if you would like to help us promote crafts then we would be more than happy to send you some of our fliers for you to display at your event.

Kind Regards
Emma Brown

*********

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 It has been 3 weeks since I have started organisng Our Local Craft and Gift Fair. I was given a link to your 'how to organise a craft event' page. I printed the whole thing off and it has been basically a bible to me ever since.

So, first of all I would like to thank you for writing such informative, useful and motivating articles - it was your website that gave me the courage of my convictions to set our fair in motion. And I'm so glad that you did, as since then I have met and spoken to such a variety of such wonderful, unique and different talented local people in our community. A community which I'm proud to say I'm a part of.

Gemma Chambers

*********

Hi Emma,

I have followed your pages for a long time and think you do a really great service.

I have helped organise an Annual Craft Fair for many years. This year however it has been more complicated due to, Trader Licenses, Organiser Insurance, about which we have previously been ignorant.

I would like to thank you most sincerely for your information page, it has been a huge help to us.

Thanks again for all your hard work

Regards Joan Robb

*********

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