Country Lovin’, RMEF Style
Established country music festivals help Colorado and Oregon chapters spread the RMEF message to captive audience
By Chad Klinkenborg, RMEF northern Oregon Regional Director
and Troy Sweet, western Colorado Regional Director
COLORADO: In 5 years, the Grand Junction chapter has raised more than $110,000 in net revenue at their Country Jam booth. They’ve signed up 275 new members (including 57 Life Members), and recruited 20 new volunteers.
OREGON: In 2013 and 2014, Oregon chapters brought in more than $25,000 in net revenue and signed up 15 Life Members at the Willamette Country Music Festival.
Sometimes there are hidden gems in places you least expect to find them.
When the Grand Junction, Colorado, chapter set up an RMEF booth at the annual Country Jam concert in 2010, they started small and simple, hoping to sign up some new members and raffle off some guns. What they quickly realized was that the four-day concert festival held a gold mine of hunters, conservationists and potential RMEF supporters.
Located just outside of Fruita, Colorado, Country Jam draws thousands of music lovers to watch local and headliner acts. But look beyond the great music, and you’ll see it’s also a great place to focus a RMEF second event. The annual festival brings in more than 50,000 music fans, many looking for ways to fill time between acts.
The Grand Junction chapter set up a booth at the show and used the excellent venue to promote the chapter’s banquet and to recruit volunteers. They found the event not only fun and profitable, but an excellent team-building opportunity that gave chapter members a chance to have fun, listen to music and soak up some sunshine.
Like any good idea, it spread. In recent years, a handful of chapters in Oregon’s Willamette Valley have taken Grand Junction’s lead and begun similar events of their own. With a little guidance and some training from Team Grand Junction, several of western Oregon’s chapters teamed up in 2013 and 2014 to sponsor the Willamette Country Music Festival, a three-day music festival attended by 40,000 people.
At the festival, Team Oregon held several raffles, sold memberships and recruited volunteers, adding their own touch by selling RMEF hats, bandanas, and RMEF gear. They took advantage of the resources available and used the venue’s big screen to play RMEF advertisements and videos about ongoing land projects in Oregon.
To keep things fun and easy, chapters set 4-hour shifts or less so volunteers could enjoy the music, sun, and festivities during the day. In 2014, volunteers from the Salem, Portland, and Tillamook chapters all camped together outside the festival where they shared a cook tent and meals throughout the three days. Some great ideas were shared and friendships forged among neighboring chapters.
While music festivals can be excellent opportunities for second events, they are not the only possible setting. Almost every RMEF chapter is in a location that has rodeos, county fairs, sportsman’s shows and other community events throughout the summer. It might be time to discuss these opportunities with your chapter. Remember, facilitating displays or sponsorships at these events is not only fun and great for team building, but it can help generate extra revenue and promote the great work RMEF is doing in your state. Get out there, give it a try, and—most importantly—have fun!