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Your Planning Guide For Local Public Summer Events: Best Practices and Idea Inspiration

By Stephen Brandofino

Planning local events can be quite a challenge for local officials, and making sure that gatherings within communities go smoothly is of paramount importance in this pursuit. As the summer months fast approach, the pressure mounts to organize events that not only entertain constituents, but also foster a sense of community engagement. Officials may be left wondering “Where do I even begin?”

If you are asking yourself this question, you are not alone. Many local officials face similar questions including: What type of events should we host? Where should my event take place? How can we ensure that this event is a success? These concerns may feel like a dark cloud looming over your warm summer day. 

However, in the face of these challenges, the summer provides the perfect backdrop for fun local events that can be relatively simple to organize and host. Summer is the most opportune time to capitalize on public spaces, parks, and other recreational areas in your community. Whether it be a street festival, an outdoor concert, or a community picnic, the options for local summer events are plentiful. 

Continue reading for a guide on how to entertain your community in the summer months and boost constituent engagement! 

Why Are Local Public Summer Events Important?

Local summer community events play a crucial role in fostering a sense of connection and belonging among residents and allowing the government to provide experiences and opportunities for residents. These events provide opportunities for people to come together, socialize, and build relationships, creating a strong sense of community spirit and making your community more cohesive overall. 

By celebrating diversity, promoting cultural understanding through events, and showcasing local talent and traditions, summer events contribute to the vibrancy and richness of the community in a big way. Additionally, they provide opportunities for residents to support local businesses and organizations, stimulate economic activity, and boost civic pride. 

Read more about How to Manage & Improve Local Public Meetings & Events here!

How Long Should It Take To Plan A Local Event? 

With the stressful job of a local government official, it can feel difficult to dedicate your time to planning summer events. On top of a list of other tasks in the way of summer event planning, other factors that impact this may include, the size and complexity of the event, the resources available, or if an experienced planning team is put in place. It is important to make sure that everything is in place to successfully run a local event. This includes tasks such as obtaining the necessary permits and licenses, formulating a crew of volunteers, and if needed, hiring vendors.

Ultimately, the main goal is to give yourself more than enough time to plan, organize, and promote the event effectively, while also leaving time to plan for any adjustments and contingencies. Begin planning your summer events now as it is smart work a few months in advance to ensure the success of your event. It is never too early to plan and it may be a good idea to maintain a detailed timeline so that a smooth and successful event can become a reality. 

Check out our Special Event Application here. 

Where To Begin: 8 Steps To Planning Your Local Summer Event 

Planning local events for your local government to host is just like planning any other kind of party or event. If you are unsure of where to start, reference these steps as a guide: 

1. Define the Purpose and Goals

Determine the purpose of the event you plan to host and outline what you and other local officials hope to achieve. Are you aiming to promote community engagement, celebrate a particular cultural or historical aspect, raise funds for a cause, or provide entertainment? The identifying and outlining of these goals should serve as your first step in the planning process as they will guide your event towards being more successful and impactful. It is also vital to ensure that all team members are on the same page with the goals of the event and aligned on their responsibilities to achieve the shared vision. 

Consider our guide on How to Perfect a Local Government Year In Review: Budget Planning & Setting Goals

2. Form a Planning Committee

Assembling a team of volunteers or committee members to help with the planning and execution of the event is crucial and should be completed at the earliest stages of planning. For example, when working with volunteers or other employees, assign specific tasks that they can oversee in order to delegate responsibilities. 

Make sure that volunteers, committee members, and employees are all confident about their individual roles that will make your event successful, so that morale remains high and no employees face burnout- there are plenty of jobs to go around. 

Check out these two application modules from GovPilot: Volunteer Application and Committee Volunteer application.  

3. Set a Budget

Budgeting is always a difficult task, whether you have ample or limited funds to throw a summer event. Determine the financial resources available for the event in the preliminary stages of planning and create a detailed budget accordingly. Make sure to consider expenses such as venue rental, permits, entertainment, supplies, marketing, and insurance. 

Guaranteeing your budget, and projecting it before any plans are set in stone will help your entire team to stay within budget, and limit any unnecessary expenses for the event. Booking venues, venues, and entertainment in advance also saves money most of the time and should be done as soon as a budget is outlined. 

Learn everything about Managing Local Government Funds For The New Year here. 

4. Select a Date and Venue

Choosing a date and venue are tasks that go hand in hand, and are equally important. First, ensure that whatever day you pick for your event is on a weekend, so that residents with a traditional 9-5 job can still attend. Pick a date with as little conflicting circumstances as possible. For example, ensure your event doesn’t coincide with any holidays or conflicting events to guarantee that most of your community members will be able to attend. 

Second, when booking a venue and selecting between options, ensure it is suitable for your target audience and aligns with the event's purpose. When shopping for venues, consider accessibility, parking, capacity, amenities, and any permits or permissions required at that location. 

Learn all about A Guide To Time Saving Strategies For Local Governments here. 

5. Secure Vendors and Entertainment

Arrange for vendors, performers, or exhibitors to participate in the event as this will generate interest and attract various residents to your event. Vendors and entertainment should be family friendly and appropriate as many children and families will likely be in attendance. The key of selecting entertainment through vendors, performers, or exhibitors at your event is to cater to the wants and needs of your constituents. 

Negotiate any contracts, fees, and logistics from the entertainment entities well in advance to ensure availability and smooth coordination on the day of the event. 

6. Plan Event Activities and Programming

Develop a schedule of activities and entertainment for the event, taking into account the interests and preferences of the attendees to be certain that all attendees are looking forward to the programming. Oftentimes, this means ensuring there are activities available for guests to participate in at all times, whether through booths or tables which are set up for the duration of the event, or cycling new performers during the day on a main stage.

If your event offers multiple activities or performances, this is where you can be more selective with providing both child-friendly activities and activities for adults only. 

Read our guide to The Key Ways To Stimulate Your Local Economy and use our tips!

7. Promote the Event

Promoting an event is one of the last stages of planning, since your plans should all be cemented before any advertising or promotion is done. Use social media to your advantage by posting about the event on your local government pages, so the details can be shared or reposted by anyone interested. 

Create a marketing plan to promote the event and attract attendees based on your specific goals. This marketing plan could include partnerships with local businesses that will help you advertise, physical ads such as flyers or billboards and online advertising to capture the bulk of your audience in today’s modern online landscape. 

To learn more about marketing strategies for local governments, read our guide here!

8. Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses

Likely, your event will require permits and licenses of some sort, whether to book a venue, block off streets, hire performers, inspect infrastructure, or for city zoning. Research and obtain any permits, licenses, or insurance required for the event including permits for use of public spaces, alcohol permits, health permits for food vendors, and liability insurance to keep the event from being shut down or canceled. 

Learn how our Permitting Software Works and Improve Your Local Government's Workflows.

Examples of Summer Events Your Local Government Can Host

  • Summer Concert Series

Organize a series of outdoor concerts featuring local musicians and bands in order to support local artists and bring a fun activity to your community at the same time. These concerts are a popular option for local government events nationwide because they can be held in parks, town squares, or other public spaces already owned by the locality while bringing music and fun to residents.

  • Outdoor Movie Nights

Consider hosting outdoor movie nights in parks or community centers which are already local government assets and will not cost much to set-up. Screening family-friendly films under the stars, or in community areas will be a great way to bring families together, encourage residents to connect, and inspire trust in government. 

  • Community Picnics

Plan a community picnic or barbecue where residents can gather to enjoy food, games, and activities together as these events often raise morale, and help residents use public spaces in the heat of the summer! Everyone has a little more time in the summer for fun, so community picnics and outdoor events like this will encourage guests to stay active and enjoy the outdoors, even in the hot months of summer. 

  • Farmers' Markets

Organize weekly or bi-weekly farmers' markets featuring locally grown produce, artisanal products, and handmade crafts like so many communities already do nationwide. These markets provide opportunities for local farmers and artisans to sell their goods and for residents to support local businesses all in one place

  • Family Fun Days

With kids out of school in the summer, provide activities that parents can bring their children to during the day that will be enriching and positive for the families. Plan a day of family-friendly activities and entertainment, including bounce houses, face painting, arts and crafts, petting zoos, and interactive exhibits. This kind of event is very beneficial for the community as many small businesses and vendors can be hired, allowing local governments to show their support for local businesses and allowing business owners to generate revenue. 

Start Planning Local Community Events For Summer Now!

Local summer community events play a crucial role in fostering a sense of connection and belonging among residents and allowing the government to provide experiences and opportunities for residents. These events provide opportunities for people to come together, socialize, and build relationships, creating a strong sense of community spirit and making your community more cohesive overall. Book a consultation with GovPilot to learn all the ways your local government can improve efficiency and constituent engagement. 

Local Government Summer Events FAQs

Why is summer the best time to hold local community events? 

The summer weather and free time of constituents in the season makes it the best time to host community events that will bring in the highest amount of attendees. Nice weather eliminates the need for rain dates and complications that bad weather brings, and having kids out of schools guarantees that are available. 

Why should the government host summer events for the public?

Summer public events make it possible for communities to come together and participate in activities that only warm weather allows, and when hosted by their local governments it inspires more constituent engagement and participation in local politics. 

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Tags: Constituent Engagement, Events, Government Efficiency, Constituent Experience