Every late August or Early September, I host an Open House/Back to School Bash. I like to combine them because usually families are more excited to come do something fun and free rather than come to an informational event. Last August, we hosted a County Fair Open House Event. It was a great way for us to meet families, recruit new members, provide important information (parent handbook, expectations, discipline policy, communications, calendars, etc.), and have a ton of fun!
Our County Fair theme was kind of accidental. I am lucky enough to have creative staff so we were able to make a number of decorations, etc. My Program Director, Amber, was able to get popcorn, chips, and pickles donated, and we happened to have a load of fake sunflowers in the Games Room closet. I say all of this to say, hosting a fun, informative event does not have to be expensive if you use your resources wisely! So if you have a ton of random cards or game pieces you could host a Vegas or Game Night event. Or if you have an abundance of foam balls host a "Have a Ball" event.
Now that we had a theme, it was time to get it rockin’. I developed a big event checklist template that I use for all big events in the hopes of staying on track, organizing effectively, and determining what I can delegate. Find it below! I gave this template to my PD.
Once a plan was in place, we started to develop different stations that families could visit.
County Fair Blue Ribbon Pie Competition: Families could bring in pies that they made throughout the week. Special guest judges (the staff) tested the pies and chose their favorites. It was so much fun and some families even bought pies from Braum's and claimed them as their own.
Fair Food Expo: We provided tons of delicious fair themed foods. Most items were donated, but we did purchase corn dogs and caramel apples! Krispy Kreme, Ozark Mountain Popcorn, Mexican Villa, and Taco Bell donated items. Families loved eating a fun meal and sharing with their kids. Best thing…it was free for our families! I even distinctly remember one member saying, "this is the best dinner ever!"
County Fair Music Festival: We had a local band perform country type music. Luckily, one of my staff members was in the band so that was also free! The members loved hearing Mr. Kendall sing! We square danced and line danced too! Check out his amazing voice here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tAChLOlGtQ
Pie Eating Contest: This was such a great component. Towards the end of the event, we invited the members who signed up for the pie eating contest to the gym. Everyone actually joined us in the gym because they wanted to see the madness. We purchased those $0.88 pies from Walmart. Members had to, with hands behind their backs, eat the pie as fast as they could. Minimal mess, a ton of fun!
The Sertoma Unit Show: You know how you trick kids into learning by doing fun things with LEGOs or a movie? Well we tricked parents too! Parents received the Unit discipline policy, parent handbook, program descriptions, and more about the Club in order to earn tickets to cash in at the prize pit! This was really helpful in order to make sure families are familiar with our procedures! Click here to see an example of a Parent Handbook!
The Prize Pit: Families could cash in tickets they earned from games, activities, and attending the Sertoma Unit Show!
County Fair Games: In the games room and gym, we hosted some traditional fair games such as duck pond, tin can knock down, hula hoop challenge, dance competitions, a photo booth, and more!
At this event, we had 150 attendees. Families learned about the Club, had a ton of fun, were recognized, and promoted time together! It was a huge success, but as with every event I host I like to give all staff the opportunity to complete a Plus/Delta from (attached too). This is something I learned from my teaching years. Pluses represent things that went well and Deltas are items that need to change or need improvement.
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