If you've been tasked with organizing a vendor fair fundraiser for your parent teacher organization (PTO) and have never organized one before, you may feel a bit overwhelmed when you first step into the event space. Taking a completely empty room and transforming it into a vendor fair is not a small task, especially since you'll be under time constraints in setting up. You'll need to keep a few things in mind for a successful outcome of your fundraiser. Here are a few ideas that might help.
Provide a Food Court for Attendees
Attendees may get hungry and/or thirsty at your event, so it's a good idea to provide a food court where they can eat and stay hydrated. Since this will be a fundraising event, ask parents in the school to donate foods, baked goods, and bottled drinks. Alternatively, you can hire a catering service and arrange with them to give you a percentage of the sales from the event in exchange for including their business name on advertisements for the vendor fair.
Be sure to inform the manager of the event location that you will be having food and drinks served in case they have stipulations that need to be met, such as a specific area for a food court in the room. For example, if heating equipment will be used, the food court area will likely need to be placed near fire extinguishers and an emergency exit.
Arrange Areas that Are Family Friendly
Since you will likely have families from your PTO's school that attend the event, it's a good idea to have areas that cater to families with children and expectant mothers. Of course, if both male and female restrooms in the facility do not have diaper-changing tables, provide small tables in the restrooms so moms and dads can take care of their littlest family members. Section off an area with partition walls in the quietest part of the room for nursing mothers who want privacy. Another thing you can do is to set up a face painting station and a play area for children, which can help keep kids from getting bored. Consider hiring a magician to perform magic shows to keep older children entertained while their parents browse through the vendor fair.
Plan the Arrangement of Vendors
You'll need to plan where each vendor will be stationed in the room. It's a good idea to provide partition walls or curtains to separate them from each other. You may want to consider grouping the vendors together according to what they sell and/or showcase and provide attendees with a map of the vendor layout. That way, attendees can choose to focus on specific types of vendors if they want to. However, it's important that you keep fire code regulations in mind. Staff members at the location may be available to help you determine how to lay out the vendors and the walkways for the attendees while following the fire code regulations.
Develop a Setup Schedule
Since everyone will be under time constraints in setting up prior to the event, it's a good idea to stagger their arrivals based on the layout of where their stations will be. The vendors or caterers who will be located in the far corners of the room will need to set up first so they have enough room to bring in large items and displays without disrupting other vendors who are stationed closer to the entrances. This will also help keep the congestion down in the parking lot at the entrance so the vendors will be able to park their vehicles to unload their items one or two at a time.
Look for event space in Chicago or your local area to get started with your plans.