Autumn has officially arrived, the leaves have started to turn and Thanksgiving is just one week away! We hope your market is going all out to make this time of year feel exciting.

Michele Wolf, the instructor of the Ontario Market Manager Certification (
OMMC) program, emphasizes that there are many benefits to holding events.

Hosting special events is beneficial because they:

1 – Generate local media coverage
2 – Attract new customers
3 – Serve long-standing customers
4 – Offer an opportunity to partner with local businesses, sponsors and organizations
5 – Attract grant funding
6 – Are fun and educational
7 – Beneficial for vendors

A special event doesn’t have to be huge.

It’s important to note that an event doesn’t have to be a huge to-do in order to attract lots of customers who are ready to buy. Your market’s Thanksgiving event can be made up of a few small and simple activities, like a face-painting station for kids, vendors handing out recipe cards for their favourite Thanksgiving dish, an apple-bobbing contest or pumpkin pie throwing contest.

Encourage your vendors to participate in the special event by explaining that the more vendors who get involved, the more excited customers will be to join the good vibes and purchase items. That way, the event will benefit customers, vendors and the market as a whole!

Success means getting the whole community involved.

You can get funding and sponsorships for your event by reaching out to local business, organizations and institutions. Click here for four easy ways to secure new partners for your market.

Michele warns that events should pay for themselves, which means your market must make money due to hosting the event, rather than lose money. Markets lose money when they make the mistake of relying too heavily on special events to attract new customers. Planning and budgeting for the event needs to account for costs like supplies and advertising, as well as less-obvious costs, like staff time.

Creating some Thanksgiving buzz for your market is simple and fun–with a big payoff.

This is the perfect time to hold a special event to highlight that farmers’ markets are the perfect place to find everything needed for a Thanksgiving feast.

Create some buzz online: Send a media release to your local radio station and newspaper describing what your market has in store to celebrate Thanksgiving. (For tips on how to write a news release, log into the FMO website as a member, click on View Member-Only Resources and then scroll down to click on Media Tips: Tips for Writing News Releases.)

Take advantage of your social media channels to tell your customers about your event (click here for social media tips). Create a hashtag for your market and encourage your customers to tag it when they’re sharing photos, and definitely use it when you’re sharing their photos! This’ll add up to more fun, more customers, more engagement, and ultimately, more success for your market!

Click here for six ways to promote your market and harness community engagement.

Some other things to keep in mind.

Pulling off a successful event includes reflecting on how it went. Make sure you include time for evaluation when planning your event.

Michele suggests market managers measure outcomes in terms of five criteria:

1 – How well did the event support your market’s mission and purpose?
2 – How did it shape up in terms of budget?
3 – How did it serve the needs of the vendors and community?
4 – Was it fun?
5 – Did it meet your overall ambitions?

To get the inside scoop about promoting your market and planning special events, enroll in the Ontario Market Manager Certification program.