County Events #3: Running a Smooth Event

I probably only got about 3 hours of sleep the night before the first 4-H County Events I coordinated.  Not because I was excited or nervous (although I probably was both) but because I grossly underestimated how much time it would take to put together all the resources necessary for running the event.

You see, even though I had participated in 4-H County Events programs as a youth, I’d never seen it from the manager’s side.  And the manager has the very important job of setting the tone for the entire event.   Some things to think about as you major your local 4-H County Events:

Before the Event

  • Plan ahead!  Registration dates, location, date/time really should be set by September 1 each  year.  Judges and volunteers should be nailed down at least a month in advance (Don’t forget to remind them about a week before the event).
  • Secure a facility large enough for your needs.  You will need several rooms for presentations, a tabulation/judges’ orientation room, and a general assembly space.
  • Attend someone else’s County Events.  This is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t work for you and your County.
  • Prepare a timeline for the day and run through it.
  • Create a spreadsheet with all competitors so that scores can be entered as scoresheets become available.  Put someone (BESIDES YOURSELF) in charge of this data entry during competition day.
  • Create a toolbox with all supplies you will need and include extras of all materials.
  • Prepare alternative activities in case you need to fill time (ex: one competition room runs later than the other).  Consider-  LIVE commercials for 4-H summer camp or 4-H County Council.
  • Remember this is not just a competition day but it is an educational event.  Build in an opportunity for some of your outstanding demonstrators, Share-the-Fun performers, etc. present before the entire audience if they are willing.  This allows other 4-H members (and parents) learn from the expertise of their peers.
  • Consider the feel you want for the event.  Consider music, decorations, etc.  Don’t feel you need to coordinate this.  If you have a volunteer who is especially crafty- this is a great project to outsource.

Day of the Event

  • Have signage!  This includes both road-side signage to the actual host location as well as to individual competition rooms and the like.
  • Have greeters.  Whether its extension staff, volunteers, or older 4-H members, have plenty of smiling faces stationed at a very visible location to greet guests as soon as they arrive.
  • As guests arrive greeters should give them the orders of the day- EXPLICITLY.  “Good morning and welcome!  After you sign in you will go to the auditorium for assembly to begin at 9 am.  After assembly we will all break for our competition rooms.  You will be in room 32 which is down this hall and to your left.  If you need to visit the restrooms, they are here to my right.  Do you have any questions?  No?  Thanks for coming.”  
  • Do not hand out scoresheets until you have had the chance to review them, but do mail them out as soon as possible after the event.  This allows you time to make sure judges have shared their comments constructively and communicated positively.
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