It's a good investment, I think. It brings a lot of people downtown.Matt Morris, city manager and festival director
SPRINGFIELD — As the final musical note of the 2019 Springfield Fall Festival on Nov. 9 echoed across town, plans were being made for the 2020 version of the annual event.
The changes are likely to be few.
“As a whole, I’m very happy with it,” said City Manager Matt Morris, who served as the festival director for the first time.
In addition to quality musical entertainment, the festival provides food, family fun and, most importantly, shopping opportunities for several thousand people.
“This is all just to benefit Springfield business,” Morris said. “It’s a good investment, I think. It brings a lot of people downtown.”
Morris said he has a clear priority for the 2020 festival.
“I need some more sponsors,” he said.
Corporate sponsors help land musical headliners. Country music’s Little Texas closed the 2019 festival.
“We usually try to get three or four of what we call the ‘top’ sponsors,” Morris said. “Number one, they get notoriety because their names and their logos are displayed right on the stage in front of everybody. They also get a ‘call out’ by the emcee every time he goes up there. He thanks them several times throughout the day.”
Several sponsorship levels are available, including Platinum ($5,000), Gold ($3,000), Silver ($2,000), Bronze ($1,500 and under) and Vendor Plus ($250).
Bank of Newington, EOM and Southern Eagle Distributors were Platinum sponsors in 2019. Hendrix Machinery and Southern Motors were Silver and Bronze, respectively.
“The City of Springfield could keep this thing going for a very long time but those sponsors help tremendously,” Morris said.
Sponsors at the top two levels get a VIP pass at the stage and a daytime booth near the stage. They also have their names and logos published in a newspaper ad, on festival posters and on the festival website.
“The biggest thing they get is the marketing from it.” Morris said.
Additional sponsors participation would pave the way for Morris and his staff to land bigger headliners. He has an affinity for Travis Tritt.
“He puts on an excellent show,” Morris said. “I’d love to have him down here.”
Morris said citizens frequently ask him why festival headliners are usually country artists.
“It’s just the music that a majority of the people around here like to listen to,” he said. “Numbers are the game for us because we just want people downtown. I personally don’t care what the music is as long as all the businesses say it was worth them being open on a Saturday and they appreciate it.”
The 2019 musical acts also included Luke Lander and Caleb Lee.
“Luke Lander is from Rincon and he did a great job,” Morris said. “We definitely hope to have him back and Kaleb Lee — that guy was on ‘The Voice’ — is going places.”
The festival also featured a car show, dunking booth, cornhole tournament, water walk mechanical bull and other attractions.
In addition, the city-owned Mars Theatre, which has undergone numerous enhancements, showed college football games on its screen and offered wine for sale.
“That theatre ties in to what Springfield is doing as a whole,” Morris said. “We are spending money on the community. We are spending money on a festival to get people down here and, hopefully, those people will spend money in the businesses.
“I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the businesses as best as I can. What we have done with this festival has always been an asset to them and we just want to keep it going as long as we can.”
For more sponsorship information, call (912) 754-7617.