Revitalization is hard work and opportunities come unexpectedly and quickly. In Pottsville, our client, Pottsville Area Development Corporation (PADCO) decided to hold a one-day event to attract people to the downtown and jump-start revitalization. Simple right? Hmmmm…not so fast.
On June 1st, PADCO announced it wanted to hold an outdoor festival to bring people to downtown Pottsville to jump-start the revitalization effort. The date of the event? September 15th!
Pottsville on Tap was conceived on June 1st, named on June 7th and took off at a gallop! In 138 days, Eastwick Solutions along with a 5-person event committee of volunteers, and 2 part-time PADCO staff pulled together an incredibly successful event. Our strategy was to develop strong partnerships with local companies and people who understood the vision of revitalization with a passion for Pottsville.
The first step was to develop a vision of what the event should look like; after lengthy conversations and brainstorming, we agreed on a street festival that catered to adults (i.e. no face painting, pony rides or bouncy castles) with a national brand as a draw. In the end, it looked like the kind of get together anyone would want to come to: a Pierogi eating contest, great food trucks (duck fries anyone?), wine, a Yuengling beer garden, rock music (in case you missed your favorite “Journey” song from the ‘80s!), period reenactors and lots of little touches to encourage photos.
With tenacity and teamwork, our team recruited vendors, created and implemented a marketing campaign, wooed financial contributors, developed and sold sponsorship packages, found in-kind donations and somehow, kept a sense of humor throughout the duration.
Two key players in the success of Pottsville on Tapwere Pottsville’s own Yuengling Brewery (who how to throw a good party!) and The City of Pottsville, the entity that rolled out the welcome mat for the event.
There were bumps in the road, but every Monday, come hell or high water (i.e. floods in Pottsville on mid-August) the Pottsville on Tap committee would dutifully join our weekly conference call to review the progress (sometimes slow, sometimes in leaps) around the event. Together, we would find solutions to the most pressing problems and trade ideas to get us closer to our goal of 2,000 people.
Happily, the event surpassed everyone’s expectations as we welcomed thousands of people to Pottsville on Tap downtown Pottsville. Click here to see for yourself and try to ignore the fact the reporter couldn’t get the name right. An estimated 3,500 people came out to explore downtown; we couldn’t have been happier.
So here is what we learned;
Teamwork is essential as are volunteers willing to work! Eastwick could never have pulled this off if we didn’t have a team as stubborn and dedicated to success as us.
It never hurts to ask! Pottsville on Tap had surprise supporters like a local hardware store Hadesty’s Hardware Store, who saved us by donating tables and chairs that the local rental place didn’t carry. Another hero was the city of Pottsville who bent over backwards to accommodate our requests no matter how far-fetched we thought they were.
Play nice! Courtesy went a long way in getting things done as did public recognition for the many contributors.
Keep your eye on the prize! Our team knew who was doing what every step of the way and we knew the stakes were high – exceeding expectations was the vote of confidence that Pottsville was on the path to revitalize and reimagine itself.
We hope this inspires you and your community to dream big and get your butts in gear to achieve the hard tasks. We survived, and you will too.
Eastwick Solutions develops revitalization strategies for towns and municipalities, activates rivers and trails through recreation, education, and environmental programs to spur economic development in nearby towns, provides Main Street marketing to supplement existing staff, engages stakeholders of all levels to ensure buy-in and support, stimulates economic development strategies leveraging nature-based assets (rivers, trails, agriculture, events), designs and develops nature-based asset programming, events and activities to maintain engagement and build affinity, writes grants for project-related funding, and conducts asset assessments to build image, programs, and events around. Click here to learn more about our services.