Fun Days Committee update from Dec. 2, 2015

As I first reported in August, citizens and city staff have been meeting to discuss ways to add a little more juice to Fircrest Fun Days. The Fircrest Fun Days Committee held its third meeting on Dec. 2 at the Rec Center. Given my ability to type a bazillion words a minute, I agreed to take notes and produce a report. (Thank my parents for that 10th-grade typing class.)

Eight people attended the meeting and discussed the following topics and actions:

Overall goals: more attendees, more vendors, a livelier vibe, cut down on the “dead times” during the day

Budget: The City Council added another $2,500 for 2016, so our total budget from the city is $10,000.

Sponsors: We can increase the budget if we attract sponsor businesses and organizations. We gave Parks Director Jeff Grover some ideas for developing sponsorship packages that offer benefits beyond the weekend, such as displaying their corporate banners in the gym and/or at the pool for various lengths of time, based on the level of sponsorship. He’s going to put some packages together.

Foot traffic: With the Friday night spaghetti feed by the Kiwanis Club, the swim meet on Saturday morning, the festival all day, and then the big fireworks show at night, the city estimates about 3,000 people visit during the weekend (with about half attending the fireworks show).

Vendors: We’d like more things to do, more crafts and goods, more entertainment, and a few more food vendors. It was noted that too many food vendors at a site can cause them to lose money and have a bad experience. We have to find the right balance. Also, there are so many festivals and events around the county throughout the summer that it can be tough to attract them away from other options. Jeff also will work on incentive offers for participants of the Holiday Bazaar and the Spring Craft Fair. We also talked about seeing if Pint Defiance, Wingman, Gig Harbor Brewing or another local brewery would like to host a beer garden (now that it’s legal).

Entertainment: Ideas floated at the meeting include inviting a performance by Fircrest’s Image Studio of Dance, the Tacoma Musical Playhouse or other theater groups, the Blues Brothers tribute band, a pie eating contest, Hunter’s friend who juggles flaming torches, Elisabeth’s friend who is a comedian, a square dance or some other type of dance (indoors or outdoors), the World’s Shortest Triathalon (swim in the pool, ride a tricycle around the park, and a short run), a giant water balloon fight (I admit it, this is my idea…), a gigantic community Bunko or Bingo game, a night swim at the pool, pony rides, inflatable bouncy structures. Another option is to see if Click! or another sponsor will host a movie-in the-park on Friday night.

We talked about branding the entertainment in the style of the Major Bowes Amateur Radio Hour in honor of the investor who helped found Fircrest before going on to create one of the most popular radio programs of the mid 1900s.

Suggested run-of-show: After three meetings with lots of brainstorming and brownies, the group developed this working lineup for the 2-day event.

  • Friday night: Kiwanis Club’s spaghetti dinner, Bingo, a movie in the park (remember, it’s summer, so it doesn’t get dark until after 9), beer garden, night swim, plus the craft vendors and activities.
  • Saturday: Kiwanis Club’s pancake breakfast, swim meet (which drew hundreds of people this year), entertainment for kids during the day (dance performance, karaoke, Reptile Man, etc), water-oriented field-day activities in the afternoon, World’s Shortest Triathalon?, beer garden, fireworks at 9:30. We’d like to have some featured entertainment at 5 and 7 pm.

Next steps: We divided up the research and assignments regarding sponsor packages, movie-in-the-park options, beer garden sponsor, dance performance, Bingo possibilities, theater groups. Jeff plans to produce a 2-question survey to distribute this Sunday at the tree lighting ceremony as well as other events this winter so we can keep collecting community ideas.

The committee’s next meeting is 7 pm on Jan. 6. We’d love more help. Feel free to share any ideas on the Fun Days Committee Facebook page!

How can we put more fun back in Fircrest Fun Days?

Over on Mike Brinkerhoff’s appropriately named “Crazy World of Fircrest Politics” page on Facebook, there’s a great discussion about how to boost Fircrest Fun Days. (Dec. 2 update: Mike took that page down because it got a little to crazy, which is ironic given the name of the page…)

In dozens of comments, people are saying they think Fun Days is feeling … tired. That’s especially noticeable because it comes just a few days after the knock-your-socks-off National Night Out celebration. NNO has skydivers, a helicopter, police cars, lots of food options, free inflatable activities and more. A few days later, FFD has the same inflatable toys, but it costs to play. Both events also close with a big fireworks show, and as much as everyone loves fireworks, two shows in five days may be a bit much (even for gunpowder-lovin’ Americans…).

NNO can’t move. Around the the nation, it’s always on the first Tuesday in August.

So what can we do to spruce up Fun Days? There are lots of good ideas being shared on Mike’s page. And the city is listening.Fun Days poster

At this week’s City Council meeting, I asked city staff to survey Fun Days vendors and the general public. They plan to do so, and hopefully it will be posted online next week (likely using a tool like Surveymonkey). I’ll post a link, and I’m sure Mike and the awesome ladies of the Friends of Fircrest page will make sure it’s shared far and wide. (See below for an update.)

Keep in mind, there are people who are quite happy with Fun Days, and they need to be heard too. My 6-year-old son loved the pony ride, the inflatables, and listening to the karaoke. And the Kiwanis Club of Fircrest had a hugely successful spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Friday, followed by a successful pancake breakfast fundraiser on Saturday. So to be clear, it’s not all complaints or criticism.

The city should add all the ideas being shared on Mike’s page. I hope the survey will ask about dates, satisfaction with the current setup, suggestions for other activities, etc.

It also needs to ask if you’re willing to help. Because here’s a huge difference between the two events: NNO has an active committee that raises private donations and spends most of the year planning the event. Fun Days is organized by our tiny Parks and Recreation staff, which also has to manage a whole year’s worth of activities on a shoestring budget. The staff works hard on your behalf, but I don’t see that they have the capacity to do much more. It’ll take more help to make Fun Days even, well, funner.

Aug. 21 update: The city was impressed by the online discussion and strong interest in improving Fun Days, so it is creating a Fun Days Citizen Volunteer Committee. According to a memo sent to Council today, the first meeting of the committee is tentatively set for Sept. 1 at the Rec Center. Please RSVP to jgrover@cityoffircrest.net if you are interested in participating. Jeff says one task will be to work with the committee to create and distribute a community survey.