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And the Gala Award Goes To... Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival 2022

Part 5 in our 2023 Gala Award Feature Series

All photos courtesy Scott Chaffee @oakimagery/Russel Wynters

Gala Award Recipient for Best Multiple-Day Event Program for a Corporation or Association 

Everyone has a story about the day their world shut down for COVID. But not everyone’s story involves cancelling a beloved annual event just hours before the gates were to open. 

Steve Levine Entertainment (SLE) redeemed their COVID loss by making sure their 2022 Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival, held in Chandler, AZ, would be the festival’s best year yet. They did a few things to make up for 2020, starting with honoring tickets purchased, as well as marketing and sponsorship packages, from 2020, and they welcomed vendors set for 2020 free of charge. 

Next, they expanded the festival to be two weekends instead of one, allowing a jam-packed entertainment lineup with artists including Flo Rida, The Beach Boys, the Four Tops, The Temptations, Nelly, Walker Hayes, Uncle Kracker, The Band Perry and more. SLE also made the transition to using radio-frequency identification (RFID) wristbands to create a fully integrated cashless event for the first time. The new tech came with its fair share of issues, but SLE managed to troubleshoot successfully, and the implementation of the RFID wristbands resulted in an increase in sales and in-depth attendee demographics—which ultimately led to increased safety and security by being able to provide fire and police with accurate attendance numbers. 

Speaking of safety, the SLE team outsourced security from multiple companies to ensure we had proper coverage throughout the entire event, a measure that is unusual for festival planning. 85% of tickets are purchased day-of, so this influx of festival-goers brought an intense focus on event safety. SLE also enforced a clear bag policy, allowing for expedited entry and a more reassuring sense of security for all involved.  

In order to combat staffing shortages, SLE got creative, and 50% of the event team were volunteers. All their efforts were successful; the 2022 festival broke the attendance record with over 150,000 attendees over the course of the two weekends. The Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival is proof that resilience and creativity are the key to handling the unprecedented challenges of the events industry. 

Congratulations to Steve Levine Entertainment for taking home the award for Best Multiple-Day Event Program for a Corporation or Association! 

To submit an entry to this year's Gala awards, please visit our awards portal.    

Important Dates 

  • Tuesday, April 1, 2023 | Gala Award Submissions Open    
  • September 1, 2022-September, 30, 2023 | Eligibility Period for Entries    
  • Sunday, October 15, 2023 | Regular submission deadline ($99 fee)    
  • Tuesday, October 31, 2023 | Late Bird submission deadline ($160 fee)    

If you are interested in entering in the ACE awards instead, you can enter the 2024 Catersource ACE awards in the same online portal as the Gala awards. Catersource + The Special Event will run February 12-15, 2024 in Austin, TX. Both the ACE and Gala awards will be presented during the conference at a to-be-determined location in Austin.   

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