Summer Festivals Work to Stand Out in Crowded Calendar

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Lansing, Mich. (WILX) A festival's success boils down to attendance.

It's all meant to be fun and games, but at the end of the day organizers still need to pay the bills. It's a tough feat when you consider this weekend there are at least eight happening across Mid-Michigan.

For local organizers, the challenge is trying to stand out with such a crowded calendar.

"I think we're all going to start organizing earlier and earlier... maybe I'll contact vendors for next year tomorrow," Benjamin Hall said laughing. Hall in his second year coordinating the East Lansing Jazz Festival.

"You just got to stay ahead of the game a little bit."

Both the Jazz Fest and Old Town's Festival of the Moon & Sun will once again be taking place the same weekend this year.

Louise Gradwohl, executive director with the Old Town Commercial Association says their success stems from knowing their niche.

"We've worked with (the Jazz Fest) through the years, and they have a very different focus than our festival so it seems to kind of compliment each other very well," she said.

The Moon & Sun festival is meant to celebrate the longest nights of the summer with food, music, wines and handcrafted beers. Ticket prices for each day are $17 in advance and $20 at the door. They include a commemorative glass and 3 to 4 food/drink tickets.

Organizers with the Jazz Fest say this year they're also upping their game and expanding the event to include several blues acts as well.

"You want to try to do a little something for everyone too," Hall said.

The Jazz Festival is centered around a large tent located in downtown East Lansing in Parking Lot 1, 230 Albert Ave., and Ann Street Plaza, located on the northwest corner of the Albert-M.A.C. intersection.

Meanwhile, Lansing's Beer Fest gets tapped next weekend and organizer Paul Starr says they've definitely been able to hone in on their target audience.

"It's all about the beer obviously and that's the main focus," he said.

In it's second year this summer, Starr says they're expecting a big increase in attendance over last year with a goal of about 1,500 tickets.

It's not their niche they're worried about, it's the time of the year that prove tricky.

"People could be camping, people could be going away, everybody's kind of more busy in the summertime than in the winter or fall or spring, so there is a lot more options of stuff to do out there," Starr said.

"But if you put a good product out there, a good festival, people will come out."

Starr said for their "Beer Fest in the Ballpark" in April they sold about 2,500 tickets.

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