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City: 'Not waiting for events to come to us'
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Oct 08, 2013 | 1265 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Victorian Square in downtown Sparks was one of three venues the city's Parks and Rec. Department displayed during the weekend to visiting event planners looking for new avenues and audiences.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Victorian Square in downtown Sparks was one of three venues the city's Parks and Rec. Department displayed during the weekend to visiting event planners looking for new avenues and audiences.
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The City of Sparks’ ‘It’s Happening Here’ slogan can only be true if the events the city prides itself on continue to roll into town throughout the year. After a jam-packed summer of large events like Star Spangled Sparks, the Sparks Farmers Market and the nationally known Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, the Parks and Recreation Department was busy touting its venues to visiting event planners looking for a home for their event.

Special Events Director Francine Burge guided a small group of event planners on tours of Golden Eagle Regional Park, Victorian Square and the Sparks Marina. She said it was her third year of bringing in guest planners to show them possible venues, and she said in the past it has proved to help iron out logistical questions while displaying a desire for Sparks to host.

“We have had success (in the past) bringing out planners whose events had not yet come to fruition,” she said. “I think they were impressed with the fact that we were out there actively recruiting. We are not sitting back waiting for events to come here. We are actually looking for events that fit not only what we are looking for, but events that would fit in our venues.”

Event planners for Brewforia, who handle The Barley Bros. Traveling Beer Show, showed plenty of interest in Victorian Square for an event that has been in the works for a few years. Burge said 2014 is optimistic to host the festival, but there is still much to be finalized before next summer.

One planner from Syracuse, NY, looked at the Sparks Marina in hopes of bringing a powerboat event in the future. Burge said hydroplane boats have been used there before, but this would be a slightly bigger and faster class of boats. She said he was pleased to see the MyWake Global Challenge happening during his visit to get a better feel for the venue.

A local event planner hoping to bring an airstream show-n-shine event, which is gaining popularity after events in Palm Springs, Calif., to the area toured the Sparks venues as well. Burge said each venue comes with its own set of challenges, which proves the need for the tours.

“Golden Eagle is a tough sell because it is a product of its own success,” Burge said. “It is almost fully booked and it is really tough to get a weekend out there. But, we like to show producers that the City of Sparks puts out a lot of effort and does not take its venues really lightly.”

Burge said the tour’s completion allows the logistical analysis to begin for Parks and Rec. and its visiting planners. Dissecting the “details” of each of the events continues throughout the year, including, but not limited to, getting pricing estimates on police and fire department help, which means it can take years for an event to fully stake claim at a Sparks venue.

“It takes probably between two and three years to recruit an event from the time we begin talking to them and when we finally bring it to fruition,” Burge said. “Not only does it take site visits, but it also takes the producer time to decide whether or not they could get the support for sponsorship and the logistical side of things handled. It is a long process.”

Burge and the special events team continues reaching out to various event planners during the year, and she said the city has landed new events for October in downtown Sparks, accomplishing part of the goal to bring more visitors to the Victorian Avenue area.

Frightmare relocated from the Scheel’s parking lot due to construction for the new IMAX theater at Legends and found a new home near the Victorian Square movie theater. Pumpkin Palooza, a family friendly, Halloween-themed event, will swarm Victorian Avenue on Oct. 19 and 20.

For more information on upcoming events, see the events calendar at www.cityofsparks.us.
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