Engaging Your Audience
We want to partner with you to make the event more entertaining .
The Smoke Out is what WE make it. It’s a “grass roots” event. Honestly, most of the cool additions to the event through the years have come from the people who attend. Mini bike races and Drift trikes were not my idea. Especially when the Smoke Out was smaller, I had a lot of people in the culture approach me with great ideas of things they would like to do, to make the event even better. We cannot loose this sense of ownership just because the event continues to grow every year. How do we keep this sense of ownership alive at the grass roots level?
We are looking for small shops and vendors willing to support the culture by adding something to the Smoke Out. I will work with each vendor independently to adjust your vendor fees in order to help you do that. This is OUR event. Here are some ideas of the kind of thing I am envisioning right now but the whole point is to tap into your originality.
1) Run an interesting class. We have had some well-received classes. For example, Ron Harris from Chop Docs did a cool class on painting with rattle cans, Hellcat Pinstriping has done some great classes and Jon from Monster Craftsman knocked it out of the park with some welding classes. It would be really cool to have someone do a class on engraving, using Zippo lighters, or something like that. The idea is to present classes to inspire people to do this stuff in their own garage (after the event) with affordable tools and materials.
2) Make the event more comfortable. For example, say you have access to large tent that you could set up to provide additional shade. Your contribution could be to bring that tent and set it up for people to hang out. Years ago, The Ice Cream Man from Hell set up a really cool outdoor living room for people to sit on a coach and lounge. It had a fake fireplace, rugs and everything.
3) Add a contest to the Smoke Out. For example, we had a shop put together a corn-hole tournament and I added it to the event schedule. They ran the contest and provided some inexpensive prizes. IF YOU HAVE PRIZES THAT YOU CAN DONATE we will work with the people running these contest or put you in touch with each other. We want to make sure the contests and the prizes are on the Smoke Out website to get you some advertising before the event. If someone has access to one of those contraptions where you hit a plate with a big hammer and the ball goes up to ring the bell, stuff like that would be awesome. Think safety first! Examples might include a pole-dancing contest, arm wrestling. Let’s add a more carnival aspect.
4) Put together an interesting display. For example, it would be great to see a cut away motorcycle engine where someone can see how a Harley engine works. How about a motorcycle art show?
5) Add an event. For example, someone could have a cigar-lounge where people can gather at 2 am in the campground for a cigar (maybe “interesting” smoking jackets can be highly encouraged). Toga party? Masquerade ball? Hawaiian Luau? Garage 71 has added Karaoke and it is not to be missed.
6) Add entertainment. Before I go too far with this, we have to be careful with this one. We do not want people setting up their nephew’s crappy band or blaring music that conflicts with the stuff happening on the main stage or anything like that. However, if you can find a way to bring out a juggler, a fire-eater or a marching band, let’s talk. One year we had someone who did carvings with a chain saw. Maybe someone can parachute in to the event? Are you friends with an A-list celebrity that will be at the event? Let’s put them on stage to hand out an award or something.
If there is another shop that you get along with well you can work together for bigger projects.
Believe it of not, by the time we pay for facilities, insurance, porta-jons, stages, bands, security, EMTs, advertising, social media, taxes, office supplies, planning staff, event staff and on and on… well… we barely have enough money left to fly our private jet to the island we bought in the Bahamas. (lol) We really do try to use the money we do get to make this the best possible event that we can. There is probably not much money that we can come up with to help you, other than discounting your vendor fee, but we can talk about it. Unfortunately, free wristbands are not something we can provide.
We don’t have a lot of time. There are a million things that have to be done, as the Smoke Out gets closer. We have to have these details decided 90 days out from the event. It also takes time to get these events posted to the website so that people know about them. I have a lot more things that have to be done that last 90 days before the Smoke Out. The reality is that the truly supportive shops and vendors, the ones that make the Smoke out a priority, know if they are coming right now.
Help us spread the word. This is huge. Please hand out event post cards and talk to your customers about the event. Please encourage people to watch the “Road to Smoke Out” DVD. Please put the Smoke Out poster on your website. Please mention the Smoke Out on your social media. If you let people know you are coming, they will come.
We certainly welcome almost all vendors and at full price our vendor fees are REALLY reasonable for the size crowd that we get. Therefore, other than a discount for early registration we will not extend any discounts to vendors that are not adding something to our culture and/or the Smoke Out.
Early registration and planning helps us a lot. Please work with me on that so that we can all be successful.