SATURDAY, MAY 16 will mark the second occurrence of the A.B. Beach Music Festival. Last years’ event went incredibly well and we are moving forward with our plans to make the festival an annual event to be held each year on the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend. The band line up this year is the same as we had last year – The Band of Oz, The Holiday Band, The Fantastic Shakers and the Mighty Saints of Soul. And, as we did last year, we will have plenty of food trucks and other vendors on site.
In a beach town like Atlantic Beach, a town that can lay claim to being the place where the Shag was invented, a Beach Music Festival seems like a natural event. But, those of us at town hall envision this festival as more than just a good time. We see it as an economic development engine and part of our town branding initiative.
A few years ago we developed a strategy to use events as a way to draw people to Atlantic Beach in our shoulder seasons – the spring and fall. And, we also knew that our main beach along the boardwalk was a great place to host events. We have held weekly events, such as our Seaside Cinema movie nights in the summer. We have held sporting events, such as the Tuna Run 200 and CycleNC. But, the Beach Music Festival has been our biggest success so far and is a perfect example of the impact the right kind of event can have on our town.
We hold the event on the week prior to Memorial Day Weekend in order to extend our summer season by an extra weekend. Most of our hotels, motels, restaurants, rentals and shops are pretty much full between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend. By holding the festival before this traditional summer season, we bring people to town for an additional few days of high-season.
Another reason the Beach Music Festival is a great example of how event marketing can help our town beyond the day of the event is that Beach Music is consistent with the brand of the Town of Atlantic Beach. Branding can be a bit of a vague concept, but it is essentially the personality of a company or, in our case, a town. Our brand is more than just a logo – it is who we are. Atlantic Beach is a classic, small town, Southern beach town. And, when thinking of festivals that would be at home in a classic, Southern beach town, nothing fits better than Beach Music.
Branding and economic development may not be the first things that spring to mind when you think of a Beach Music Festival. But these are issues that your town council and I are thinking about a lot these days. Nonetheless, when the music starts on May 16, I’m sure we will all be enjoying the show. After all, we are at the beach and summer is almost here – business can wait until Mondays.