After an event like Chopalooza- The 2012 Tour, those who planned it and were involved tend to sit back, chew it over and figure out how it went. What went right? What went wrong? What could have been done better? How could we have made things more efficient?
Janet and I chewed on that the entire drive back home. I also found out later that Bonnie’s Birds proprietors, Bonnie Grafton and Rebecca Stockslager were doing the same thing. They were looking at the event as a whole and how to take the next step to improving future Chopaloozas as they want to make it an annual event. I believe that one of the first things we did that worked well was creating a Facebook private group page so we could all plan it.
We then created a public Event Page on FB and began inviting lots and lots of people. The planing page was crucial because we had to put together auction items, get it online, get raffle items together, plan the Chop ingredients shopping list and figure out what needed to be cooked and who would be cooking it the day before.
We began publicity a month before time so we could talk it up. We kept adding content so people would see that this was not “Your Mama’s Usual Fundraising Event.” What we meant by that was that it was not people sitting down and listening to lectures. People were not going to see endless Power Point presentations. At the end I was adding ridiculous little videos I made on the Photo Booth application on my laptop just so people would have something to look at. As I stated, “It’s not Hemingway, but it’s content.”
Naturally, the content was a bit odd. At one point I borrowed a page from Charlie Chaplin and did the “Dinner Roll Dance,” using two forks stuck into two dinner rolls and made them dance. It really didn’t matter what we added. People would come back to the page just to see something new.
The night before the event, Janet even shot me talking with Siri on her iPhone which was actually quite funny and again, something new was added to the event page so it gave the event a completely different feel to it. People just knew that if Siri was informing Janet and I that, “There are 17 bars in your area, 14 of them are quite close to you.” and watching us absolutely fall apart laughing, that this event was going to be fun!
We wanted people to realize that this event was going to be different. And it was. The way it was different was this: What we wanted to do was make 200 pounds of Chop and sell it as a way of raising money for Florida Parrot Rescue.
When you are making 200 pounds of anything, you’re going to need a little help. So we thought that if we made this event participative, it would not only be more fun, people would realize that making Chop isn’t as daunting as they might have thought and they would learn by doing. Our hunch was right.
People rarely sat down. They got to get involved. They were actually helping to contribute to the event, not just with their wallets, but with their hands. They learned by being a part of the process and they saw how it was made by actually helping. Of course it helped that we had music blasting away which added a Party Atmosphere to it. That really kept the energy up and kept people moving.
Many of these people knew each other or knew of each other through Facebook, so it was really nice for so many to come together at an event and finally get to talk to one another. That was a HUGE part of the appeal. It was almost a formal Facebook Meet Up.
There were some really nice features of this event that I would love to see other events capitalize on. People seemed to love the music, the involvement where they could participate if they wanted to and the idea that they were actually making something and doing something.
Now, what went wrong? Nothing really. In the end, we raised over ten thousand dollars for Florida Parrot Rescue. Not a bad haul for six weeks of planning and a week or two of hard work. We sold about 97 % of the Chop, the auction items went for premium prices and even Bonnie and Rebecca’s Shop had a pretty good day despite the event. We even managed to sell quite a few event T Shirts.
Some things we thought would go didn’t quite make it. But there was nothing you could see or feel at the event that appeared to be a problem. We came away from the event tired, but very happy with how it came down. We also have a great blueprint for future events. We have been approached by other people who would love to see a Chopalooza in their area. And we are working on it. But please bear in mind, there is a LOT of work involved for the organization and business hosting the event. It’s not an instant success. It doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen. But in the end, to answer the Question I posed in the title of this Post: Was Chopalooza a success? Hell yes!