How to start your own festival: 'Fest for Success' plans to show you

Have you thought about starting a festival? Always wanted to be a vendor at one? Want to find ways to make more money in the event-producing business?

A new program, set in New Orleans, called “Fest for Success,” was announced on Wednesday (Sept. 12) by Cleveland Spears III, president and CEO of the Spears Group and founder of the National Fried Chicken Festival, which is Sept. 22 and 23 in Woldenberg Riverfront Park.

At the Wednesday press conference announcing the lineup of food for the National Fried Chicken Festival, Spears said he has created a foundation called Festivals for Good, which will launch “Fest for Success, presented by Chevron.”

“Fest for Success” features a “two-day boot camp for entrepreneurs, festival producers and major event organizers,” according to a press release. The sessions will focus on the various elements required to start and build a profitable festivals or events.

Candidates should have an solid idea of the kind of event they want to produce. Additional details on the program, such as dates and curriculum details will be announced at a later date. Spears hopes to start the program before the end of 2018.

“Our goal with Fest for Success is to help other Louisianans turn their ideas into businesses while contributing to our cultural economy,” Spears said.

Participants will receive “a certificate of completion and have access to ongoing consultation from the Spears Group and other program partners,” according to the press release.

“We hope to help identify and nurture the next French Quarter Festival, ESSENCE Festival or Fried Chicken Festival right here at home,” said Spears, who received the 2018 T.G. Solomon Award for Entrepreneurship and Civic Engagement, presented each year by | The Times-Picayune in collaboration with the Solomon family. The award recognizes entrepreneurs who also are civic leaders.

The idea for the festival-event boot camps grew out of recommendations from the Boston Consulting Group, which was commissioned by the New Orleans & Co. — formerly known as the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau – to develop a strategic plan for the New Orleans tourism and hospitality.

BCG advised that the city could attract more visitors — and more dollars into the economy — with additional successful food, music and cultural festivals. The program goal is to encourage the creation of new events that will generate $100 million of new economic impact in the next five years.

“By supporting Fest for Success, we’re promoting the Crescent City’s culture as well investing in its economic growth,” Leah Brown, Public Affairs Manager for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit, said in a press release. We encourage everyone with a festival idea to take part in these two-day workshops to learn more about organizing and hosting a successful event in New Orleans.”

To sign up for more information on “Fest for Success presented by Chevron,” visit

The free National Fried Chicken Festival will feature food from more than 30 restaurants, live music, a beer garden, food demonstrations and family-friendly fun. For more information on the festival, visit

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