Diary of a Festival Director
So… how does THIS all happen? How do we turn a parking lot into a playground? How do we turn piles of sand into a concert arena? It’s a long drawn-out process: combining years of experience, great ideas, sleepless nights, and an insane knowledge of municipal codes.
What I love about the festival building process is the process. Sure, it takes a while to get from point A to B. But the end goal is to offer the greatest experience possible to those who give us their time. (After all, time is the most valuable commodity). When you give us your time I take painstaking efforts to make sure that BeachLife time, is time well spent.
Where do we start? For me, the event begins months before even stepping foot into the venue. In building the experience – we start on the “outside” and work our way in. From the second you buy the ticket, rally your crew, and make travel plans: I want you to enter the experience effortlessly, without even noticing the work, the planning, or the execution required just to get you to the door.
Then the real circus begins: “inside the gates”! This is the most satisfying, (and the most stressful) step to the festival building process. We strive to immerse you into a new world, by transforming the area into a paradise, away from the struggles of real life… But everyone has individual tastes! Imagine creating a buffet that feeds 100 people, with a pile of ingredients and 100 different dietary restrictions – that’s what laying out the inside of a festival is like. We are building a temporary Disneyland without a guidebook (or unlimited budget.)
Every single day I open up our drafting program and I start playing “Minecraft for adults” (as my son calls it) – I move, shift, shrink and adjust everything: everyday. “Not enough restrooms”, “Power can’t go there we have no generators” “How am I getting 8000 people inside in less than 17 minutes”, “what happens if…” are the constant questions that keep my mind working overtime.
Security plans, EMS, traffic, weather contingency, parking maps, toilets, power grids, water, health codes, food permits, credentials, etc. The list goes on and on. The harsh reality is that if even ONE piece of the puzzle fails, it’s all anyone can talk about…. No one remembers when the trash systems work, but everyone remembers when they don’t!
How do I gauge the success of an event? It’s when I get to stand on stage and look out into the crowd and watch a sea of smiling faces “knockin’ on heavens door”. This is my sole metric for success. It’s a feeling, a smell, a chill that comes over me at the final hour. Last year, this moment hit me during Willie Nelson at approx 7:17pm. That’s when I knew it worked. I just felt it.
I hope to stand on stage at BeachLife 2020 and get that familiar chill in the final hour – then I’ll know this process worked. I’ll know we did it!
Until then… please send me more legos!
From the Desk of Jake Pike
The Man behind the Curtain
The Keeper of the Keys
BeachLife Festival Director