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How to Produce a Successful Outdoor Event

By October, 2016Events, Ideas, Tips & Advice

Having an outdoor event is always risky business. However, when weather cooperates and you have taken the time to cover all of your bases you can create a wonderful event. There is nothing better than a well-planned and well executed event.
For some reason, when the weather cooperates, it seems to help all other plans fall into place as well (or at least it’s one major stressor removed for the day). For hosting an event outdoors, in the fall, in Iowa – I’d say we were pretty lucky in experiencing the perfect weather. We couldn’t have ordered better weather from Mother Nature, she was very generous with a sunny, 72-degree day and winds of about 5-7 miles an hour. The beautiful sunset during the event was the cherry on top.


Inflatable White Stars Scattered Throughout the Scenery

After making a deal with Mother Nature, use the following list of items below to create a successful outdoor event:

Check in with the Park

If you’re holding your event in a park like we did, they’ll want to be at the top of your contact list. Call to determine the rental price, length of time you can be there for the event, and setup and teardown. Always place a call to the parks and recreation department to make sure you know all of necessary permits you need and are meeting any other regulations they have in place.

Trash cans

I can’t tell you how often the trash cans get left behind and how a silly little thing like last-minute runs for trash bags can be more than annoying! Make sure that your caterer has all the trash bags they need and that they will carry off the trash when they leave. An alternative would be to have a dumpster in place for the trash. Make sure the area is clean and cleared of clutter when you leave.

Sound permit

Don’t plan an event with all of the proper permits in place. You’ll need to check with the city AND the park for the correct permit for sound. Even a small sound system can cause you trouble if you don’t have the permit. The cost is minimal compared to the fines you might have if you don’t have the permit in place.

A back up plan

As with any event held outside, make sure you have the backup plan in place in case Mother Nature doesn’t deliver the type of day you were hoping for. This includes planning for alternative locations or venues if necessary.

Fire permit

Contact your state fire marshal to determine if you need a fire permit. They will want to know you have marked the exits and have a fire extinguisher in place in case of emergency.


Make sure the caterer is holding the proper liquor license to serve the drinks of choice for the evening and that they can be served on public property.

On-call ambulance

Consider having an ambulance standing by in case of injury.

Our Setup Experience

Even though we had the perfect event, we had a few unexpected occurrences prior to the show.
One of which was that although the park maintenance guys had completed their weekly mowing, a large amount of rainfall over the four days leading up to the event meant the grass had grown more rapidly than usual. This left us with grass longer than we would have preferred. We could have called them to mow again, but chose not to in order to avoid having large clumps of dried grass scattered about. After weighing the two options, we decided that the grass being slightly too long was the lesser of two evils.
Secondly, the park has an abundance of apple trees. While very beautiful, these trees attract a very unpleasant and potentially dangerous guests. One tree seemed to be hosting a very large underground nest of yellow jackets! Luckily we checked in on the space earlier in the week and had the park rangers remove the threat. Note that we said yellow jackets and not honey bees, making sure we were complying with all rules and that we didn’t exterminate any endangered species was important as well.
Even though we took the precautions to alleviate this situation, the yellow jackets were STILL out in full force the day of the event. The rangers were again able to help us by doing another round of Raid. We also placed orange cones around the perimeter to secure the area. Luckily, we didn’t have any incidents. You might also consider fogging the area for mosquitoes so your guests aren’t fighting these nasty buggers all night.
Our event was held in the evening as the sun was descending, therefore we had to also take the extra step to have well-lit pathways. This was important for guest safety. For this we used rope lighting to create a safe walkway and lanterns to light the way from the tent to valet parking. Not only did this create a safe path for guests, but was very beautiful as accent lighting.
There is nothing like a perfect outdoor event to impress your clients with your planning abilities. Just make sure you keep Mother Nature in mind, cover all of your bases with permits, ensure guest safety, and have solid back up plans in place.

More photos from our event