Several people have asked about Bastille Bash 2015, so it is with a little sadness that I write this. There will not be a Bastille Bash Street Festival this year. The explanation follows:
Not Enough Volunteerism
There are a handful of organizers who conceived the idea of Bastille Bash, and worked to make it successful for the past three years, with the help of many participants and volunteers. Those organizers do not have the time to put into organizing the event this year. One is getting married this summer, one has a new job requiring travel, and one owns a business that is quickly growing.
If you attended the event you can imagine the months of preparation goes into the Bash: city permits, food, wine, entertainment, rentals, marketing, tickets, volunteer coordination, set up, tear down, etc.
In total the event takes about 3,500 hours. To put that in context, a full time job is 2,000 hours per year. Each year recruiting volunteers to work the event has gotten more difficult, and each year finding volunteers willing to help organize was almost impossible.
Not Making Enough Money
The event was not growing from a revenue perspective. The Bash costs approx. $60,000 to produce and generates approx. $70,000. That leaves $10,000 being donated to the charity each year. In the first years that was okay, but that is not enough to make it worth the effort of the charities, wineries, and sponsors donating to the event. They needed to see growth each year — which we were not able to produce.
Note, the Community Council, Merchants Association, and neighborhood did not receive any money from the event. All proceeds went to the charities.
The Original Goals
For the past three years, Madison Valley has hosted the French-themed street festival Bastille Bash. The idea for the event was born from a desire to create a signature event that would accomplish many goals:
• Create a memorable theme people would associate with the neighborhood.*
• Encourage people, who would not typically visit Madison Valley to do so.
• Encourage people who live/work nearby to visit shops and restaurants they may not typically frequent.
• Raise money for charity: In years one and two it was the Children’s Response Center, in year three the Detlef Schremp Foundation.
• Provide an enjoyable and unique experience for guests.
*Please note the French theme was never intended to exclude any population. It was simply an event that we could build a good theme around and market. Also, Bastille Day fell on a summer weekend that didn’t have a lot of competing events happening in the city.
The Good Stuff
• Annual attendance ranged between 2,500 and 3,500 guests.
• Madison Valley is now often sited as a “French-themed” neighborhood.
• Madison Valley and the event was written about in more than 100 publication and blogs each year.
• Guests seemed to enjoy the Bash.
The Not So Good Stuff
• Volunteer participation and enthusiasm for the event waned each year.
• Participation by the retailers was waning.
• The city of Seattle was not going to allow us to close Madison, after many tries.
• The cost of the event continued to rise.
• The revenue from the event was not growing – keeping charities and sponsors away from the event.
Big Thank You
It takes a lot of reliable people with skills, time, and willingness to participate to pull off an event the scale of Bastille Bash. We didn’t have enough of those people to make it sustainable.
That said, I don’t want to leave out the people who have helped with Bastille Bash along the way and there are quite a few of you. For everyone who helped organize, manned a water station, sold tickets, or helped in all the ways – my sincere thank you, and I’m sure the community thanks you too!
Honestly, I’m not sure. The organizers of the Bash are discussing organizing a Bastille Dinner. The plan would be to close 28th alongside of Luc and have provide a prix-fixe meal along with entertainment. It would be a much smaller event and the proceeds from the dinner would go back into neighborhood improvement projects. As this concept develops I’ll let you know.
Want to Help Organize the Bastille Dinner?
If that’s something of interest to you, let me know. Part of our decision to put on the dinner or not will be interest in helping put it together.
Want to Volunteer in the Community?
I’m not sure if you are aware but we do some cool things in Madison Valley.
• Spring Cleaning Day
• Sip and Dine Events
• Holiday Lights
• A variety of beautification projects
• Articles for the website
• Public Safety
If you want to be involved, reach out.