Wings & Wheels soars - and slumps

October 11, 2013

Your primary objectives as an event planner are first, to develop an event that will attract and entertain an audience; and second, get that audience to the event. This year, the planning committee of the 6th Annual Wings & Wheels-A Georgetown Fall Festival hit a home run with the first part, but ran afoul on the second.

Anyone who puts on events knows that all the planning and anticipation in the world can’t overcome poor execution. And if you fail on the execution of any part of a plan, it can reflect poorly on the whole event. Despite the months and months of strategizing to overcome this year’s loss of the parking areas at the county airport that we have used in past years for preferred and handicapped parking (a factor beyond our control,) the plan we set in motion to get people from the offsite parking to the festival safely and efficiently went awry, and unfortunately failed in its overall execution.

While we did manage to park and transport thousands and thousands of people to the festival grounds, many others left in utter frustration and anger over the long, unmanaged lines; the extended waits in the sun (who would have thought we would have 90 degree weather in October?) and in too many cases, the inaccessibility our handicapped and elderly guests experienced or perceived existed (despite two handicapped accessible buses) for their easy transfer from the parking areas to the festival grounds. For this, and any other unpleasant or unfortunate situations our guests experienced with the buses and/or their drivers, or with our own volunteers, we are profoundly and most sincerely sorry.

We are confident that once visitors made it to the Wings & Wheels festival grounds, they experienced an event that was even more wonderful than we planned for or could have hoped for. A record number of cars registered for the car show and more vintage aircraft flew in and were on display than ever before. The Fort Miles’ exhibits, World War II encampments and Living History panels, including our most special guest, Doolittle Raider Lt. Col. Dick Cole, and the pilots’ “flour bombing” competitions were unforgettable; and the food and craft vendors and entertainment kept people happy until the very end. So, without question that first event planning objective was clearly met with success, and we must thank our sponsors and volunteers for the commitment they made to ensure this part.

With any event, growth and change are necessary components for success. However, sometimes these factors pose as obstacles as well. Please know we are already hard at work to overcome these obstacles, and our planning team welcomes any and all constructive and positive suggestions for how we can better address the challenges, and avoid the disappointments we had this year.  Our aim continues to be to organize a very special and unique event, and showcase Georgetown and Sussex County.

But most importantly, we want to give all our guests only the most positive of experiences from start to finish, when they invest their time and energies to come to Wings & Wheels. Many thanks again to our supporters, and we hope to see you all next year!

Karen Duffield
executive director, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce

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