Ballantyne Festival starts gearing up early

Leaders of the annual Ballantyne Festival are looking to hire an event planner to help turn this year’s affair into an even bigger spectacle than years past.

The festival has grown from a simple gathering at the Morrison Family YMCA to an all-day event featuring a chili cook-off, a parade of local political candidates and games and vendors for families and young children. Last year’s event was the festival’s first as an official nonprofit, and reached late into the evening with a beer garden and live music after the chili booths and politicians cleared out.

“In 2013, we laid the groundwork for making the festival an all-day and night attraction,” Allen Starrett, one of the nonprofit’s leaders, said in an email about attempts to make the festival attractive not only to young families, but also to young adults. “For example, we launched an evening set that included live music, food trucks and drinks. In 2014, we will expand the afternoon and evening activities so that there’s always something fun happening no matter what time you drop by. Our planning team is especially focused on improving the arts and crafts experience.”

Hiring an event planner will go a long way toward that goal, as organizers hope to continue crafting the festival into a must-attend affair for the Ballantyne community. The Ballantyne Festival has become the area’s largest neighborhood gathering – something Starrett said is exactly what his group had hoped for.

“When you consider the tremendous growth Ballantyne has experienced, touch points like the Ballantyne Festival are vital to maintaining a healthy sense of community,” he said. “One of the greatest feelings on the day of the festival comes from seeing so many familiar faces who are participating and enjoying themselves.”

Starrett said organizers received a lot of good feedback at the 2013 event that will make this year’s event, likely to occur in October, a success. One thing that will definitely change, Starrett said, is there will be plenty of recycling bins after the need was realized at the last event.

“We received a ton of great feedback about activities, timing of events, etc.,” he said. “We’re taking it all to heart. Everything is on the table for 2014.”

The event planner will assist in developing the festival for growth and success, Starrett said. An ideal candidate will reside in Ballantyne and have experience planning fairs, festivals and corporate events, as well as working with corporate sponsors.

Anyone interested in the position should email his or her resume and proposal to no later than Jan. 15, a Wednesday.

This year’s festival will include candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives District 9 seat, currently held by Rep. Robert Pittenger; local North Carolina House of Representative and Senate seats; and Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners seats. Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour currently serves the SouthPark area on the board, and Commissioner Bill James currently serves the Ballantyne area. Filing for office opens Feb. 10.


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