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The state’s largest free music festival hopes a monthly wine-share will lure donors to ease the financial crunch of staging a three-day event.

Charles Martin February 9th, 2011

Throwing a party is expensive. Even stocking cheap beer and snacks for a handful of friends can be pricey, so imagine preparing for 35,000 to 50,000 friends all descending on a small stretch of downtown Norman for a three-day festival with no ticket sales to help bring in the largest roster of musicians of any other Oklahoma music festival.

This is the plight of the organizers for the Norman Music Festival, a free event since its inception four years ago.

With 200 bands performing over three days in downtown Norman, organizers hope to scratch up extra funds to ease their stretched budget by hosting a wine-share Friday during the Second Friday Circuit of Art.

The wine-share will run from 7 to 9 p.m. at Stash’s annex space, 412 E. Main in Norman, and only costs one bottle of wine for every two people. Norman Music Festival volunteers also will be selling VIP passes for NMF 4.

“I wanted a way to identify possible sponsors that aren’t large corporations, but maybe 30s, 40s, 50s people in Norman that want to support the community and support the event on a smaller level,” said volunteer Quentin Bomgardner. “The idea was to hold wine-shares to attract people that would fall into that category, then approach them about a VIP pass for the event that would come with T-shirts, posters, places to get food and snacks during the day of the festival, all for around $100 for a couple. If we sell 100 of those, we generate $10,000 of income.”

And every little bit counts now that NMF has grown to three days.

The first wine-share was in January, with a sizeable crowd descending on the multiuse space behind Stash, called Five. Organizers were so impressed with the response that they decided to make it a monthly tradition.

This week’s theme will be “green,” one of the colors of the Norman Arts Council logo, which helps put on NMF. All wines need to have green in the label, and a prize will be given to the greenest label and to the most interesting label with green in it.

“There is so much going on in downtown Norman on each second Friday with all the galleries staying open, so it is natural to have a wineshare where there is a slew of other entertainment in the immediate area,” Bomgardner said. “It is a great way to bring people together, and my thinking is that if they are aficionados of wine, then they might fall into the category we are trying to target.”

David Kittredge and Ginger Roddick own Five and use the space as the headquarters for The Idea Collective, a publicity firm. Roddick said it initially was supposed to be a workspace, but quickly realized that they had more room than they needed and began discussing good ways to utilize it.

“We decided to come up with a new concept of a studio-retail hybrid,” she said. “We like to do more sponsor-activated experiences, like the NMF wine-share, as we help with the branding and messaging, as well as taking a more creative approach for marketing and advertising. We are also looking at using the space for pop-up retail stores and for photographers and cinematographers.”

There is so much going on in downtown Norman, it is natural to have a wine-share.

—Quentin Bomgardner

Kittredge has his eye on reinvigorating the area around the shop to establish the area east of Porter Avenue as an arts district. Roddick believes that as downtown continues to flourish with unique, locally owned shops, events like wine-shares and music festivals are critical in reaching a special kind of consumer.

“These businesses really do push our creative culture,” she said. “We are also taking part in the second Fridays art circuit, and that has helped draw attention to our side of Main Street. We are really gearing our efforts in all these areas in hopes that Five will take off.” —Charles Martin

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