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Event Success Stories - Sebring Soda Festival

Typically, the Sebring Soda festival takes place in April but with the pandemic just beginning, the 2020 event was rescheduled for October 2020. While their area only experienced a brief shutdown, and was not as impacted as other areas of the state, the Greater Sebring Chamber of Commerce, who produces the annual festival, opted to cancel the 2020 event out of an abudance of caution and with safety in mind. The Soda Festival returned in April of 2021 and Chamber CEO, Tenille Drury-Smith shares how things changed, what stayed the same and her advice for those planning events right now.

What was unique about your planning for the 2021 Sebring Soda Festival?
"We did not dwell on restrictions or rules. People are adults and they should know how to be considerate of others, socially distance, and follow guidelines. It was great as there were no complaints. In our area, masks are not required so that helped our situation. We also added unique messaging to our website so that when you first logged on you saw the restrictions for the events immediately and knew the guidelines before attending. This helped people understand and events ran smoother when we were able to get back up and running."

What impacts did the pandemic have on your staffing and event operations?

"Our staffing was not affected, as we run with three total staff members and 90% volunteer operations. It was challenging at first to get volunteers involved again, but people did come back out to help. We learned a lot during this. \You must be open to change. With every obstacle we faced, there was a way to overcome it and a new way of doing it. Just do not get stuck on how you used to do it, but make things better for the future of your events."

What is your outlook for the future of events?

"I am very optimistic for the future of events. I haven't set my expectations too high for most recent events, but have been pleasantly surprised. We had more vendors than ever before, attendance was great and we had a steady flow of people who stayed a long time to enjoy the event."

What advice do you have to share with the FFEA Community?

“There is hope coming and people are ready to be out and about. We need to be ready for them.”

Featured in this interview:

Greater Sebring Chamber Of Commerce
227 US-27
Sebring, FL 33870

Phone: (863) 385-8448

Email: information@sebring.org

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