Singing the Blues About Blue Gypsy Bluesfest 2011

I’m singing the blues about the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest. As successful as the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest was last year grossing almost $15,000 and bringing together over 350 enthusiastic people in the Tidewater Area to enjoy a day of blues and BBQ, I had to make an executive decision.

Sadly I’ve tabled the event indefinitely for the future.

There are two major factors that contributed to this decision. The first is the fact that I am not a non-profit. The second is that in the interest of a growing business and having to take time management into consideration, I know I don’t have the amount of time to devote to the bluesfest and still keep my clients happy.

Because my business is not a non-profit there are many issues that were stumbling blocks in setting up the event for charity last year. These would continue to be a problem and would continue to grow as the event grew. I did a lot of research and soul searching about setting up a non-profit to handle the event in the future. I just couldn’t see myself running a business and a non-profit at this time.

I asked several local non-profits if they wanted to take it on under their umbrella, but for each, very understandably, they had various reasons why the bluesfest would not fit into their mission or their fund raising needs. Events are time consuming to plan and in the early years do not raise nearly the amount of money in correlation with hours put in as other fund-raising efforts do. I’m well aware of this after taking on what grew into a huge project last year.

I wanted to put together committees to assist with the bluesfestival. However I added several new clients in succession last year and I didn’t have the time to translate all the information that was in my head, in order to be able to guide a group of individuals. Especially since I couldn’t meet with them on a regular basis due to the physical distance between Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach.

The truth is, the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest was a huge undertaking last year for a single individual.

I did everything from updating the website, canvasing for sponsors, setting up and planning the actual event, pounding the pavement and burning up the phone lines for sponsors, BBQ restaurants, and charity auction donations. I fumbled through photoshop to put together banners, advertising, flyers, bags and mugs and more. I wrote press releases, articles, and maintained all the social media while finding media sponsors and the list continues. And I fronted all the money for advertising, deposits, and services in the hopes that I’d be able to raise enough money to cover the costs. Only those closest to me knew that I wore the hats for everything.

I met some amazing people throughout the journey of putting together the event. People I hope to continue to know and possibly work with on efforts in the future. I was so pleased and happy with all the vendors, sponsors and supports who dove in and believed in the event. Every time I talked with someone about the idea, they gave me several more contacts to call. So while I did it alone, I was never really alone.

The Blue Gypsy Bluesfest was a full time job and a labor of love.

Countless unpaid hours went into the effort. I kept chalking it up to a learning experience and at times I’d worry that I would go into debt verses raising money for the charities. I was so happy by the time the day rolled around and everyone seemed to have fun, enjoying the food, the music and the sentiment of the day. I was ecstatic that we were able to not only break even, but raise money for the two charities. (Not going into debt from the event was payment enough for the amazing and at times stressful experience.)

However this year I had to make a decision. Without the proper organization, back up, and taking into consideration the distance, and the committment I owe to my clients I came to the conclusion that I had to consider my time and what the best use of it could be. With much less time than it takes to put an event of that magnitude together, I can help other local charities in many ways that have as much impact if not more.

Before the event I was always involved in charity work and after the event I realize how important those seemingly little efforts really mean.

I continue to support Habitat for Humanity and the Natchel’ Blues Networks in their efforts to achieve their mission. I’m sad to let the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest go. I know it would have continued to grow and would have become an amazing annual event in the area. But in the end decisions have to be made as a small business owner. In order to grow, I knew I couldn’t continue the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest in it’s current model.

I want to thank all those who got involved with this fledgling event last year. You are an amazing group of people.