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2. Fete Entertainment
From inflatable jumping castles and merry-go-rounds to climbing walls, dodgem cars and Sizzlers, amusement rides of all kinds are a HUGE draw card. They will also probably be your biggest expense, so choose wisely.
Amusement rides are transported on semi-trailers. They need plenty of space to access your site. Get a company rep to visit your site in the early planning phase, to ensure your location has what they need. If your space has artificial grass, you may be limited as to your choice of rides.
Your fete file will detail operators and rides that have worked in the past. Some amusement rides are so popular that they need to be booked at least a year in advance!
If you’re starting from scratch, here are some key considerations:
- Consider your market. For primary school fetes, most joyriders are likely to be students (aged up to 11 or 12).
- Choose a mix of rides and activities for different age groups (and fear levels!)
- Be mindful of height restrictions: they can vary from 1m to 1.3m minimum.
- Don’t forget toddlers—they may be tag-alongs but they need entertaining (and there’s money in it for you if planned well!).
- Talk to a number of amusement operators before committing. Price alone is not the deal-maker. You want to be sure the supplier you use is reputable, has a solid safety record, provides professional service (including hiring appropriate staff) and is fully insured. Ask potential operators for a list of events they are attending and see them in action.
- Sell ‘ride bands’ leading up to your fete. The pricing of these will depend on the number of rides at your event. Ask around some schools in your area to get a better idea. Offer a discounted rate for ride bands ordered early, and a higher rate for those bought on the day. It is a good idea to hand out receipts rather than ride bands, and have a table or two set up (break it up by alphabet and mark names off the list) on the day where the receipts can be swapped for the ride bands. This avoids the inevitable ‘lost’; wristbands as well as the unfortunate (but real) risk of students sourcing identical wristbands and ‘ripping off’ the system.
Outright hire or percentage?
Most amusement ride operators offer two payment options: outright hire or a percentage. This is just one example of where the fete file comes in handy: what worked before? Or did it?
‘Outright hire’ means you pay a set fee and retain all proceeds of ticket sales. Caution: you must pay the hirer no matter how popular or unpopular the ride is and if you are rained out.
Many established fetes choose to take this option and bear the risk as it likely to be more profitable at a proven event.
‘Percentage of takings’ means you split the profit with the ride operator. Usually you get 20% to 25% of overall ticket sales.
This may mean less profit than outright hire but it also hedges against making a loss due to bad weather or unpopular choices.
Often you will get more rides than you would if you had chosen the ‘outright hire’ option.
Go to next chapter: On stage fete entertainment
Go to previous chapter: Fete location
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