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THE BIGGEST YET

375 vendors downtown this weekend

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THE BIGGEST YET

Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Juliene Flanders shows the extensive map of the 375 vendors that have committed to the Crossroads Street Faire taking place downtown this weekend.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED April 3, 2013 1:32 a.m.

Juliene Flanders is no stranger to organizing events.

She’s also no stranger to reaching out in an attempt to draw people to events.

It’s what she’s done for nearly her entire career – making parks and recreation programs in Turlock and Oakdale successful for the residents of those communities.

So when she took the job as the chief executive officer of the Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau, and saw the magnitude of the annual Crossroads Street Faire, she wasn’t completely unprepared.

Having a dynamic base of volunteers and organizers helped smooth out the learning curve that came with overseeing an event that draws 40,000 people.

And with vendors already committed to 375 spaces, the most in the history of the event, the crowd could be bigger than ever if the sun is shining.

The Bulletin caught up with Flanders to see how much work goes into putting something that gigantic together.

 

How is this job different from the things that you’ve done in the past?


“There are actually a lot of similarities. You’re working with community groups and planning events so that’s really the same. What changes is that now there’s a focus on tourism and bringing people from outside of the community in to enjoy what we have to offer – hotels, restaurants and shopping. It’s serving a different group of people.”

 

When does the planning for the Crossroads Street Faire actually start?


“There’s a committee with about 12 to 15 folks that starts meeting in September and meets every month between then and the event. We start meeting more often the closer it gets. What’s great about that is it made it easier for me my first time around because everybody had their task and they carried it out perfectly.”

 

What was it like last year when you had to oversee the event for the first time?


“Coming from parks and  rec, this was so new to me. But everybody knew their roles and how the whole they functions and they followed everything up and did their respective jobs. Plus we had six community groups or so that we could not do this event without – CERT, SHARP, JROTC, the Manteca Police Explorers, the local Boy Scouts and the San Joaquin Regional Conservation Corps. And then we have the police and city staff that are keeping everything and everyone safe. There is so much that goes into doing something like this, and all of the people made it so much easier for me.”

 

What do you see as the biggest benefit that an event like this brings to the community?


“I think it’s a great way to highlight the downtown because it draws people in. Something like 60 percent of our vendors are from outside of the community, and I know that we draw a lot of people from outside just for the fair itself. It’s a fun family event and it provides an opportunity for people to come downtown and shop and eat and enjoy themselves. Even our hotels do good over the weekend.”

 

Are downtown businesses receptive to the idea of the event?

“I’d hope so. I think that it’s a challenge for them having the street closed on a Saturday, but we try and work with them to give them the opportunity that they need to sign up and reserve the spots right in front of their businesses. It’s a great day to have a sidewalk sale and I think that some of our businesses are going to do that this year. We’re drawing in 40,000 people and a lot of those people don’t normally walk through downtown. It provides new opportunities.”

 

With 375 vendors the 2013 Crossroads Street Faire is shaping up to be one of, if not the, biggest on record. Why is that?

“If I had to guess I’d say that it’s a sign that the economy is doing a little bit better. Businesses are wanting to get out and promote their business, and then we have new vendors that we’ve never had before – that’s a sign that there are new businesses out there that are starting up. I think that it’s a sign that things are improving.”

 

What’s the hardest part of the organizing?

“The logistics. Even with a good team out there at 4 a.m., we get a lot of vendors showing up and trying to unload and get set up all around the same time. It really goes smoothly because we have groups that guide them into their spot and show them where to go and everything. But we have a lot of vendors this year. I just hope that they don’t all show up at 8 a.m.”

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