Chrisisms: 10 steps to preparing for ‘Green Light’ (June 12 this year)

By Chris Wachowiak

Putting on a music show comes with a high price tag, compared to potential revenue income. And then, creating a “unique” or niche event is also difficult.

Just in our market alone, it seems there is some sort of musical event every other weekend. “Green Light” is my annual outdoor concert/block party. This will be my fourth year throwing an outdoor concert, and here are the steps I put into attempting to make it a success.

1. Act to lineup/product — Do I book national acts that come with a very high price tag, or do I book regional/local talent that offers awesome music without the heavy weight name … or heavy weight price tag? My answer: I booked regional paired up with local acts — Unity, from Appleton, Wis.; B-Town Strokers, from Rockford; and The Keith School of Rock kids (to give an outlet to middle school and high school future musicians). And then, I book the post-party band to perform inside Kryptonite after midnight, Green Room Rockers.

2. Whom do I go after for a specific crowd? (Or, in my case, how do I make it family friendly?) — I partnered up with the Rockford Park District and Skate Park coordinator Traci White to offer a skate park downtown on the street that will offer free instruction, skating, pads, helmets and a show of some internationally known professionals. Kids from ages 3 to 18 will be given an opportunity to enjoy a unique event at no cost, in a positive atmosphere in beautiful downtown Rockford. This portion goes from noon until 3-ish.

3. Decorating the area — Since I call it “Green Light,” I, of course, need to add a bunch of “Green Lights” to create the scene. Stage size can fall into this area. This year, I chose the GIANT semi-trailer stage again because it provides a more impressive backdrop.

4. Security/safety plan and emergency plan — How many people will you need, and at what levels of expertise? And how will you ensure no minors get into the booze?

5. Layout — Where will vendors go, bars, the stage, the “green area”? Where will the product be stored? How will garbage be taken out, and will you have enough containers to make sure? Porta-Johns, quantity and location? Fencing, layout, setup and breakdown?

6. Marketing — How to market your event? Word-of-mouth has been always best, but difficult to create, unless you have something with a cult following like our Screw City Beer Festival. The No. 1 thing I always hear is “Why didn’t I hear about this”? Well, it seems next to impossible to get the word out to everyone. Marketing on a limited budget always creates the trickiest of scenarios.

7. Weather — Every time I’ve put on a “Green Light” concert, I have not been blessed with good weather. The first year, a micro-cell burst hit our first show, not to mention intermittent rain throughout the day. Thank goodness, I had Kryptonite to hold some of the people and put the bands on to still play.

8. Sponsorship — Can you get some support from your neighbors, contractors or companies you do business with?

9. Staff/volunteers — How many volunteers can you get, and properly train? Staff, same question. Then, how do you distinguish your team members? Do you provide shirts for staff?

10. Merchandise — Do you create merchandise for your event, and then how much?

These are the 10 starting questions I ask myself every event I put on. And for other events, there are obviously other questions, but these are my top 10 list of where to begin planning a festival.

Green Light will be taking place this year Saturday, June 12, on Main Street in front of Kryptonite from noon until 2 a.m. Kids younger than 10 get in for free, and this event is family friendly.

Chris Wachowiak is owner of Kryptonite Bar, 308 W. State St., No. 110, Rockford. Read his blog at Do you know a 20-something who is doing something unique and should be recognized? E-mail Chris at and tell him who, why and how to contact them.

From the June 5-11, 2013, issue

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