Maricopa’s fourth celebration of Founders Day Oct. 13 – reveling in four years since incorporation for this young city – will be held for the second year at Pacana Park. Like many events the city has hosted since Pacana opened in time for Founders Day 2006, this event is the biggest to date
While numerous city-sponsored events – from the Fishing Derby to the Salsa Festival – have found their home at Pacana in the past year, this will be the first opportunity for local businesses to measure the value participating in the same event can have as it continues to grow. Founders Day – which on the business front is a coordinated effort between Parks, Recreation and Libraries Director Marty McDonald and Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terri Kingery – gives local businesses a chance to get their name and product in front of many city and area residents who may not have otherwise seen them.
“The PRL Department believes in the value of supporting the local business community and large-scale events like Founders Day allow local companies to market to thousands of Maricopa residents in one venue,” said McDonald, who expects 7,000 residents to attend this year. “The purpose of the Vendor Village was to create awareness about local businesses and the different options that do exist locally for our residents. We all need to shop local, buy local and stay local in terms of supporting small business. By doing so, it keeps tax dollars within the city and allows us to develop much-needed facilities like a new library or bigger parks.”
McDonald worked with Kingery to create a Vendor Village at numerous events, highlighting chamber-member businesses. This year’s Village is the largest of any event the city has put together to date, and will pay great dividends for those businesses.
“One of the biggest benefits to hosting large events like Founders Day is it gives the business community access to a large segment of the population that may or may not know they exist. One of the largest hurdles the business community here faces is the lack of multi-media exposure,” said Kingery, noting the lack of television and radio advertising possibilities for small businesses in Pinal County. “Having huge park events gives people the opportunity to get out of the house, meet their neighbors and see a cross section of the business Maricopa has to offer.”
One of the many local business owners taking advantage of the opportunity is local Entrees Made Easy co-owner Sue Carlisle. Her dinner-preparation business kicked off in the spring and she is looking forward to the recognition a major event like Founders Day can provide her store.
“We hope to get great exposure at this event by giving away free samples,” she said. “We hope once they taste the food and hear about the concept of Entrees, they’ll take advantage of our Founders Day special for attendees at the event.”
While it is mainly local businesses and non-profits buying up the booths, some chain food vendors from the Valley – Cold Stone Creamery and Jamba Juice – are taking advantage of this major event to reach customers in a yet untapped market. McDonald, who has 97 sponsors on board for this year’s event as opposed to the previous record of 74, said all participating businesses make the city-sponsored events successful and allow for furthered expansion as the years go by.
“We have another dozen companies on the waiting list and if we had a larger park for this event, we could do more with more. Our events have become critical outreach opportunities for local companies and service groups,” he said. “Sponsors play a huge role in the success of the event. We make it easy for sponsors and we provide them upgraded booth locations to better meet their needs.”
McDonald hinted that further benefits would await sponsoring businesses at future city events as the PRL Department is already working towards a more comprehensive marketing strategy for 2008.
“Sponsorship opportunities are going to take a new direction under our new marketing program starting in 2008,” he said. “We’re working on some really exciting programs to give our sponsors the biggest bang for their buck.”
Founders Day kicks off at 2 p.m. at Pacana Park, near the intersection of Porter and Honeycutt roads, with the mayor’s welcome. It includes a chili cook-off and concludes with a 90-minute show from the Gin Blossoms and a small fireworks display beginning at 6 p.m. Park-and-Ride locations are set for Santa Rosa, Pima Butte, Maricopa Wells Middle and Maricopa Elementary schools. Shuttle service to Pacana Park begins at 1:30 p.m.