Event of the Week: Saving Braemar Castle

October 5, 2011

Community Fundraisers to Preserve Local History Succeed!

Your posters, flyers and tickets were excellent and a real asset to our organisation.

~ Marilyn Baker, Volunteer, Coordinator Annual Jacobite Festival.

When a storied castle in Scotland was about to fall out of the hands of the Farquharson clan that had occupied it for two hundred years, a community came together to save it. Built in 1628, Braemar Castle has seen its share of history.  Now in the caring hands of Braemer Community Ltd, the Castle has the potential to see a lot more.

“I am one of the many volunteers from the village of Braemar who help to promote Braemar Castle and raise funds for its restoration and refurbishment.” Marilyn Baker, a volunteer with Braemer Community Ltd, told me. “The castle is part of Invercauld Estate, but the local community took it over on a 50 year lease in 2007 to stop it being sold off.  The difficult part is raising the funds necessary to carry out essential repairs. ”

The original fundraiser for the Castle was the Jacobite Festival, a costumed fete held in 2010 to commemorate the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. “It was such a great success, attracting more than 700 people and raising over £3000 for the castle that the team decided to make it an annual event.”

For this event, Marilyn chose the Castle Event design, a perfect fit for its purpose. The design prominently features the image of a castle surrounded by a crown. Below a shield and sword provide a background for the event’s information.

The Jacobite Event was such a success that Marilyn and the other volunteers held a Village Hall Variety Show Fundraiser and plan a Halloween Extravaganza for this month.

According to Marilyn, Braemer Community Ltd used four distinct strategies to advertise the Jacobite Festival:

“We advertised our Jacobite event in 4 ways.

  1. Three weeks before the event we sent your posters to the tourist offices in all the neighbouring towns, within a 60 mile radius, and we handed your flyers to children in the local schools. We also placed posters all over our village on the week of the event.
  2. We sent photographs and articles to local newspapers.
  3. We sent press releases to websites which advertised ‘What’s On’ in our area.
  4. We asked the local radio station to make some announcements during the week of the event.

“Tickets were all sold at the gate on the day, with the usual concessions and family tickets available.”

Marilyn and her team didn’t rely on just one method of advertising the event. They chose a several pronged approach, soliciting the help of groups that would give them greater exposure to folks they may not have reached on their own, contacting the local media and actively advertising online and making sure the event was on the radar within the village and beyond.

“It’s difficult to say which of these strategies brought in the most people but certainly the quality of your posters was frequently mentioned. We also used your tickets in the hope that people would keep them as a souvenir (they are excellent bookmarks by the way) and remember the occasion…and come back year after year.”

In doing so, Marilyn and her team engaged attendees in a kind of memory management by providing them with collateral that also doubled as souvenirs. Attendees can hold onto the tickets long after the event is over and remember what a great time they had. Even after the event the posters and tickets can serve as a valuable reminder of the next year’s event.

“The best part was seeing everybody really entering into the spirit of the occasion, having fun, and participating in all the activities. Many came dressed in 18th century clothes. About 50 villagers (about 12% of the total population) took part in the Historical Pageant at the end of the Festival, to great applause from the spectators.”

One part of the event that could not be planned was the weather. It did rain the first year of the event, and winds caused some havoc the second year, but attendees remained loyal and celebrated the day.

For those planning similar events, Marilyn shared this advice, “Prepare well in advance, keep lists of contacts, and use Eventgroove for promoting your event.”

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