I am trying to plan a music festival for local bands. I have no experience whatsoever about how to go about this. Step 1, where to book it? There are forest preserve fields around my house but festival permits there last only until 6 p.m.

Step 2, how to go about getting sponsors? I figure just talk to businesses offer them free advertising and booth space. Try to play on their heart strings probably.

Step 3, the bands. Invite every conceivable local band, some of which are kind of big. Split the cost of paying for between the bands. Charge a 5 dollar admission fee to festival attendees, sell refreshments.

Any advice, comments, absolutely ANYTHING would be appreciated.
I don't have any experience in this sort of thing, but if you're getting the bands to pay, wouldn't you be effectively setting up a pay-to-play festival? I know I'd be reluctant to pay if I was invited to play at a festival.

Otherwise, I think slackerbabbath has experience in setting up festivals, you may want to hit him up.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Geez.... SO much to think about here.

First, I'm going to assume that there will be no alcohol at this festival, because that adds a dimension that makes this whole thing SO much bigger.

Now... you know you need a festival permit and have looked into what that entails. That's good.

Have you considered the following?

You WILL need insurance for your event. Someone trips over a cord and breaks their ankle... you're screwed.

The bigger the company, the less likely you will be to get them to sponsor. We set up something similar and could not get a single sponsor. The conversation always went like this - "How many years have you been putting this festival on? I've never heard of it." "It's our first year." "Oh.... call us back once you've got a couple of years under your belt." I could go on about why that is, but I'll save that for later if you're really interested.

It's hard enough to get people to come out in large numbers to pay a $5 cover at a bar. Selling admission to a festival, when there are plenty going on for free is going to be a trick without at least one major draw. And if you have it outdoors, how will you prevent people from sneaking in?

And who IS your target audience anyways? (hint: one of the reasons why it will be hard to secure a sponsorship...)

Have you thought about toilets?

What I would advise, before trying an outdoor festival, is to hook up with someone else who already does an outdoor festival in your area and volunteer to help organize theirs. Find out everything you can. Learn what you need to know by doing under the guidance of someone who already knows.

What we did is set up a "showcase" for a few hand-selected local bands (including us!) at a really great venue. We had five bands at the nicest theater in town. The venue was already insured and had a liquor licence, and their staff administered that. We also paid to use their well-reputed sound tech and they had a full light system that he used as well. Yes, it cost us, but that's part of doing business.

We did ask bands to contribute to the cost of putting on the event, and we presented them with a very clear plan of how it would break down and what it would take for the event to break even and what else it would take to be profitable, and how profitable. At that point, we had a couple bands balk.

We got media coverage to promote it - our local network TV station gave us a couple of spots, and our city's commercial radio gave us some attention. There was also community television and campus radio.

Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
I definitely back what the other guys said, and to add to that...you also need to remember that when you get a permit, they will probably say you need some law enforcement/police to monitor the event. This costs money, and can be a huge problem if your putting on a show with punk or metal bands (not to stereotype or anything, but yeah) just because of moshing and stuff.
axemanchris, I did consider most of that. I live in a mostly "family owned business" area. Not many national chains in town. I have talked to the owners of many of these business's and most said they would be happy to help out somehow.

We are trying to draw general lovers of music and live performances, very broad I know, but also in my area there is a large trend for people to go to local outdoor festivals, and other semi-local band concerts. I was mainly considering doing it outdoors because it would be a nice day out, instead of being stuffed in a hot and sweaty theater.

I had not considered insurance, however the law enforcement part of it has already been figured out. It was actually cheaper than expected. Around $600 for the hours of 1:00pm to 6:00pm. However emergency crews and paramedics has not been figured out yet.

We decided on holding it in a forest preserve park because we were able to talk a longer time period in, however we would have to clear the area of spectators by 9pm. Some local food places would set up stalls and sell food for no money, all that money would however go to them.

Of the 16 local bands I have talked to, about 9 are willing to pay to play, 2 others are willing to play if they didn't have to pay. The other 5 decided that they were above doing anything not run by themselves.

In short what's needed now is insurance, some more sponsors/vendors, and figuring out the whole cost of this venture. Its coming in at around $850 without the generators, stage, and lights. The PA system is going to be rented from a local music depot at a $250 dollar down insurance fee. The town is willing to pay for and provide toilets in the form of portable units.
Wow... well, you just might be okay then. My post really was from an urban standpoint. When you get into small towns, I can see how a lot of those factors would be different. I'm trying to imagine our municipality saying "yeah, sure.... we'll send over a few porta-potties for ya too.... our treat!"

Keep us posted!

LOL@ "The other 5 decided that they were above doing anything not run by themselves."

Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.