Organizing a school fete begins many months before the actual event, and its success will depend to a very large extent upon how thorough your preparations have been. The more planning and preparation then the smoother the fete should run. For that reason, the preparation is the first aspect of the event that we should discuss. First you need a committee.
It is essential that you get a good committee together, comprising dedicated people whose major objective is for the fete to run smoothly. The qualities you should seek in your committee members are enthusiasm and motivation, free time and also experience in organizing school fetes.
The principal school fete committee members should be selected on the basis of experience and ability: these are the Chairperson, the Secretary and the Treasurer. The chairperson will be responsible for maintaining order during meetings and could be somebody in a senior position in the school or the community who wants to help.
The secretary will be responsible for informing members of committee meeting dates and times, for taking minutes of meetings and for disseminating information to the other committee members that is relevant to their function.
The treasurer will look after the money: banking, accounts and making payments, but will not be solely responsible for fund raising. That should be the job of another member of the committee who should approach local businesses and so on for donations, and also organize fund raising events.
Then you will require members responsible for specific aspects of organizing a school fete, namely:
and so on.
Much of this depends on the size, scope and location of your school fete, and facilities such as power and toilets might already be available. If not, then somebody must be made responsible for their sourcing, acquisition and maintenance. Power has to be paid for, and you will need a committee member responsible for addressing that problem.
Each committee member should be empowered, where appropriate, to form subcommittees of interested parents, children or members of the public to help them with their duties. Some of the duties in the above list are too expansive to be carried out effectively by just one person, but it is never a good idea to appoint more than one person. That can create a conflict of ideas, so only one should be appointed who can then lead their own self-appointed team.
You should check with your local authority whether or not they have specific regulations relating to school fetes. There might be specific safety regulations you have to observe, such as maximum numbers permitted to attend the event in a specific area, you might need a license and you might have to carry out a health and safety assessment before being granted that. Just check and make sure.
The date is very important and should not, if possible, conflict with any other planned events. Do not, for example, plan your school fete during a test match, for the day of the Melbourne Cup, a Tri Nations game or on the Sunday of the Melbourne Grand Prix, particularly if these sporting events are televised.
Check with other schools when their fetes are to be, and just as important, inform them of the date you have chosen. Yours might not conflict with theirs, but they might be able to inform you of some other reason why your choice is not the best!
If you intend having a bouncy castle, fairground rides or any other event or feature that has to be booked in advance, do so as soon as your date has been settled - but make sure that your date is cast in stone, because you can't go around changing dates after booking portable toilets, entertainers, ice cream vans or carnival rides.
Also book the venue: don't just assume that the field will be free on that day or that there will be ample car parking. In fact, a major aspect of organizing a school fete is getting everything together on the same day, at the right time and at the same place. That's why you need so many committee members with one focusing on each of these.
Somebody will have to be made responsible for making sure that everything goes smoothly on the day. You can appoint a committee member for that, such as the secretary or chairman, or co-opt somebody just for that responsibility. Your MC for the day need not attend all committee meetings other than those leading up to the event, and should be selected just for that purpose.
You could also appoint your entertainment and sound committee member for the task, but they must be gregarious and extrovert and able to move around the area quickly. Some people responsible for organizing a school fete appoint two people for this job: one to look after the announcements and one responsible for the general organization of the school fete.
You will also need a responsible person that will take control in the event of an emergency, such as major accident or a panic. Panics can be cause by uncontrollable events such as bee swarms and fights. They do happen, so have somebody available to take charge, and make sure the entire committee knows who that is.
Your advertising member should be responsible for press adverts (local or national), posters and leaflets around town and also for programs for the day. Bundles of leaflets can be left in shops, post offices, sport clubs, bars and so on, and posters displayed according to local regulations.
Local radio can be approached for a free advertising slot, and also community radio stations that broadcast to hospitals and care homes. You don't expect the patients to get up and attend, but their visitors and the staff might hear the adverts! Every little helps.
The pupils should also be given leaflets to take home: each could promote one specific stall once they have been allocated, and a pupil could be allocated to that stall to drum up support for it on the day. If your school has a newsletter use that, and it is always a great idea to ask the children how they would promote it if they were responsible. Good educationally and practically!
This is where it is very important that the responsibilities of each committee member are made clear at the very first meeting. You want no arguments down the line about who is responsible for the posters and leaflets. The secretary or the advertising member? Who organizes the children on fete day? All these questions should have been resolved well before the event.
The program for the day should include a timetable of events and a map of the area if appropriate. Some school fetes can be extremely large covering several acres, and it may be appropriate to include a map with a program that can be handed to everybody entering - perhaps when they pay for entry? Check on the question of charging with the school.
Finally, make sure that the cleaning up afterwards is organized. You might have a committee member responsible for this, but you could get the children and parents involved to avoid the committee spending all evening bagging trash. Make sure there are plenty trash bins on site, and then it will simply be a matter of rounding them up, or making an arrangement with the local authority cleansing department.
Make all of these arrangements in advance, hold adequate committee meetings to make sure everything is progressing and you will find that organizing a school fete is not as difficult a job as you feared it might be.