At first blush, the Kentucky Derby, the Tournament of Roses Parade and our own Riverbend Festival might not seem to have much in common. When it comes to running such events, however, there are a large number of similarities.
Riverbend Executive Director Chip Baker was recently named to the foundation board of the International Festivals & Events Association. That group, which has members associated with large events and festivals around the world, meets regularly to share ideas. Through his involvement with the IFEA, Baker was invited to attend last year’s Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
“It’s a huge honor for Riverbend,” Baker said. “Only 20 people get invited, and it was people from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Calgary Stampede, the Kentucky Derby Festival, Indy 500. I think it illustrates the kind of company we are in.”
Baker spent nearly a week in Pasadena as a guest of the festival. At one of the dinners, the 20 honored guests spoke to the attendees about their own organizations.
“It was a dream to be there,” Baker said. “It’s about relationships. Four people from Pasadena will be coming to Riverbend this year. It’s a great resource and an ally.”
The festivals represented in the IFEA are noncompeting, so the level of sharing and openness is high, Baker said. Event representatives discuss things such as ticketing procedures, traffic control and new ideas.
Club Riverbend was borrowed from Club SunFest in West Palm Beach, Fla., Baker said. The idea for the Sky Box at Riverbend came out of an airshow convention Baker attended. Last year at the IFEA gathering, Baker addressed the group on creating downtown partnerships.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...