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Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.

Festival Guidelines

First Statewide Festival May 11, 2011 in Ojai


So, you're planning to put on a festival . . . great!
Because a successful festival is the result of careful planning and direction,
we've put together this pamphlet of guidelines to assist you.

These guidelines are specifically prepared for Member Clubs of the Federation, South,
who will find that there are a few Member Club responsibilities given.

A Federation-sponsored folk dance festival is one of the highlights of Federation activities.
It brings together folk dancers from all areas with a common goal – the enjoyment of folk dancing!


  1. Federation Festival

    1. When a festival is sponsored by a Federation Member Club, a Federation Officer, or a Federation Committee, and has a Federation Council Meeting scheduled in conjunction with it, it is termed a "Federation Festival."

  2. Regional Festival

    1. When a festival is sponsored by a Federation member club and features the same kind of program as a Federation Festival, but does not include a Federation Council Meeting, it is termed a "Regional Festival."

  3. Special Event

    1. If the festival is sponsored by a Federation member club but features a program limited as to type of dance (all Scottish or all Scandinavian, for instance), it is termed a "Special Event."


  1. Request a Date and Federation Sponsorship
    1. The club president or authorized delegate must complete a Festival Application Form and send it to the Federation Vice President.
    2. Submitting an early application, up to eighteen months in advance, is advised in order to secure your preferred date. Application for a date and sponsorship will be considered for approval at the earliest possible Federation Council Meeting after it has been received. However, no application will be considered earlier than eighteen months prior to the event.
    3. When choosing the date, avoid conflict with other folk dance events. Check the Federation Calendar of events, which is published in the Federation Council Meeting minutes and the Folk Dance Scene magazine.

  2. Plan Well in Advance
    1. Your general festival chairperson should be well acquainted with Federation festivals.
    2. Appoint your committees at least three months before the festival date. Possible committees are:
      1. Program Planning,
      2. Program Design and Printing,
      3. Decorations and Setup,
      4. Hospitality,
      5. Publicity,
      6. Exhibitions,
      7. Master of Ceremonies,
      8. Sound and Music,
      9. Cleanup.

    3. The committee heads should be coordinated by and responsible to the general chairperson; committees should consist of at least two persons.

  3. Civic Agencies
    1. Agencies, such as the Recreation Department or the Chamber of Commerce, should be contacted for any assistance and cooperation they might be able to offer.

  4. Finances
    1. If economically feasible, try not to charge for the general dancing nor for the programs at a Federation Festival. Naturally, if a club has to pay rent for a hall, a charge must be made to cover expenses. If a charge is necessary, it should be indicated on all publicity.
    2. When a charge must be made, the Federation asks that Member Clubs factor into the entrance charge a surcharge of fifty cents per person which is to be turned over to the Federation treasury to assist in its sponsorship programs.
    3. Sources of funds to cover other festival expenses:
      1. Your club treasury,
      2. Donations from civic groups, agencies, or local businesses. They might finance printing of programs, decorations, hall rent, etc.,
      3. Sale of refreshments,
      4. Advertising in program (use good judgement),
      5. A fund-raiser by your club.

    4. Obtaining Federation Assistance
      1. If you need additional assistance or have any questions, contact the Federation Vice President, who will be glad to help.


  1. Federation Festivals
    1. Publicity, flyers, and programs should say "Sponsored by the Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc." along with "Presented by (THE HOST GROUP)."

  2. Regional Festivals and Special Event Festivals
    1. Publicity, flyers, and programs should say "Sponsored by (THE HOST CLUB), member of the Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc."

  3. Club Publicity
    1. Flyers and other publicity advertising a Member Club's regular meetings may say "Member of the Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc."

  4. News Media
    1. The Federation's name may be used in newspapers, and in radio and television programs. Any reference to the "Federation" should have been preceded by the full name as the "Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc."

  5. Important Restriction
    1. Where the excess revenue over expenses does NOT go to the treasury of the Member Club nor to the treasury of the Federation, the event may not use the name of the Federation, either as a sponsor or as an identifier.

  6. Other
    1. The Federation's name may not be used in other ways without the full approval of the Federation Council.


  1. Time
    1. Sunday afternoon is generally considered the best time for a festival. The dancing, whether main program or pre-program (such as a "line dance hour"), should not start earlier than 1:30 p.m. nor later than 2:00 p.m. This allows Council delegates to take part in the activities after they attend the Council Meeting. An afternoon festival often ends by 5:30 p.m. and usually no later than 6:00 p.m.
    2. An evening festival, which is preceded by a Council Meeting, should not start before 7:30 p.m.

  2. Floor Area
    1. The total area should be quite large, with seating areas for dancers and spectators, where possible. For 200 to 300 dancers, the active dance area should be approximately 4,000 square feet and the total area, including dancer and spectator seating, should be 5,000 square feet or more.

  3. Surface
    1. The best dancing surface is a hardwood floor that is not laid directly on a concrete slab. It should not be too slippery nor too sticky. When arranging for a hall, check to see whether it would be permissible to use some type of material to reduce any slippery condition. Warning: You could be held liable for the unauthorized use of a floor preparation material without authorization.
    2. Grass or concrete areas are not as satisfactory as hardwood. If it is necessary to use such a surface, it should be smooth and level.
    3. It is important to publicize well in advance any special requirements as to footwear.

  4. Council Meetings
    1. The Federation Council prefers to meet at 11:00 a.m. A room should be provided for this meeting with a table and chairs for 8 officers and chairs for approximately 50 Club Member Delegates, Associate Members, and guests.
    2. Inform the Federation Secretary of the exact location, preferably with an accompanying map, no later than the preceding Council Meeting.
    3. On the day of the festival, provide signs directing people to the place where the Council Meeting is being held.

  5. Hospitality
    1. Provide several tables for programs, flyers, and festival information, such as location of restrooms, drinking fountains, telephones, dressing rooms, local restaurants, area attractions, etc.

  6. Spectators
    1. Encourage attendance of spectators, as people like to watch the dancing and it may interest them into becoming new folk dancers. If possible, provide adequate seating for spectators, away from the dancing, and reserve a separate area for dancers.

  7. Parking
    1. There should be plenty of parking area.

  8. Facilities
    1. Drinking fountains, clean restrooms, and rooms for changing costumes should be available. A person at the hospitality table should know the location of these facilities.

  9. Lost and Found
    1. Provisions should be made where lost articles can be found at the festival. Unclaimed valuables may be listed in Folk Dance Scene.

  10. Security
    1. Investigate whether your facility requires any additional security.

  11. Insurance
    1. If special insurance is required, check with the Federation Insurance Committee chairperson for assistance.

  12. Decorations
    1. Simple decorations typifying the theme of the festival are desirable. If there is a stage, it can be the focal point. Be sure to check with local Fire Department regulations well in advance.

  13. Appreciation
    1. After the festival, send Thank You letters as appropriate to:
      1. Exhibition Group Directors,
      2. Masters of Ceremony,
      3. Callers,
      4. Federation Personnel,
      5. Committee Personnel,
      6. Recreation Department or other organizations who assisted.


  1. Dance List
    1. Send a copy of the dance program to the Federation Vice President for suggestions and approval of at least 6 weeks prior to the festival.

  2. Dance Selection
    1. You are a host group. You will please your guest participants and have a more memorable festival, if you select a varied program of Federation dances that will be known by most of the dancers attending.
    2. Keep to an absolute minimum the lesser-known dances, esoteric dances, and those popular only in your own group.
    3. Line or circle dances and mixers will help dancers from various groups become acquainted with each other.
    4. Vary the dance patterns (circle, line, square, set), mix fast and slow dances, and include many nationalities in your international festival.
    5. Avoid daces that have several versions.
    6. Allow 15 to 20 recorded dances per hour with extra time for exhibitions and callers, if they are included.
    7. Plan for additional dances in case the program is finished before the announced time is up.

  3. Printed Programs
    1. Provide enough printed programs for dancers and spectators. Dancers' programs should be conveniently small and have yarn or string attached to the bottom corner. The type font should be clear and easy to read. Programs should include:
      1. Theme, date, and place on the front cover page. Also, include the club name and the Federation name according to the guidelines shown under "Use of Federation Name" elsewhere in this pamphlet.
      2. Dance names and nationalities should be spelled correctly and have proper diacritical marks. Avoid the use of the English translation rather than the actual name of the dance.
      3. Dance types by abbreviations, such as, "C" for circle, "L" for line, "P" for partner, "M" for mixer or progressive, "T" for trio, "S" for set, "I" for individual, etc.
      4. Provision for announcements and introductions.
      5. Names of exhibition groups and their directors.
      6. Names of Masters of Ceremonies and Callers.
      7. Festival committed chairpersons.
      8. Announcement of the next Federation event.

  4. Masters of Ceremonies Procedures
    1. Start on time. A festival is often opened by playing the National Anthem. This can be followed by a welcome and introduction of the first Master of Ceremonies by the festival chairperson, the program chairperson, or the Member Club president.
    2. Select the masters of ceremonies for portions of the program carefully. Masters of ceremonies should be very familiar with the pronunciation of the foreign names in their parts of the program, should be well versed in the music, formations, etc., of the dances to be played, and should have clear, easily understood voices. The use of qualified youth should be encouraged.
    3. Invite the people you wish to be MCs well in advance and supply them with copies of the program ahead of time. If possible, indicate which sections they are to announce so they may rehearse. Also, it would be courteous for the pronunciations to be researched and given to the MCs along with the program copies.
    4. Keep watch on the timing as the program progresses in order to fit all the dances in and to avoid delays and pauses.
    5. It may be desirable to provide for each master of ceremonies a helper, whose responsibility would be to handle the playing of the music. This should be a responsible, experienced person.
    6. Have the Mcs encourage beginners to participate in the easier dances, but also warn them of dances which they should not attempt unless they already know the dances. This is especially true if the dance involves a set or other formation.
    7. It is customary to provide a time for announcements in the program, usually half way through, to introduce the Federation President, who will in turn introduce the Federation Officers and Past Presidents. It is also customary to announce the next Federation event at this time. Keep other announcements to a minimum.

  5. Exhibitions
    1. Exhibitions enhance a festival program and attract dancers and spectators. Plan to have a total of no than 30 minutes, either all at once or at two breaks in the program.
    2. Send early written invitations to the directors of the groups you wish to invite. A number of groups are listed in the Federation Directory.
    3. When the invitation has been accepted by an exhibition group, it is important to send information about space, place on program, dressing rooms, equipment available, person to contact on arrival, etc. Be sure to obtain information about the group and dances to be performed for the master of ceremonies who is to announce the exhibitions.
    4. Be sure to thank the performing groups in writing after the festival.

  6. Sound
    1. The person in charge of your sound equipment should be selected for experience an knowledge of folk dance recordings and the equipment. Federation-owned equipment (turntable, amplifiers, speakers, etc.) may often be borrowed by a Federation Member Club for use at a festival. Contact the Federation Sound Equipment Chairperson.

  7. Electrical
    1. Be sure to check out the quantity and location of electrical outlets in advance of the festival.
    2. Know the location of the circuit breaker or fuse box and the lighting switches.
    3. Arrange for needed extension cords and power strips.
    4. The chairperson or someone in authority should be available at all times to handle emergencies.

  8. Publicity
    1. Be certain to start publicity as early as possible.
    2. A properly publicized festival should be well attended.
    3. Assistance can be obtained from the Federation Director of Publicity, who can help you use all available media.
    4. Flyers should be distributed to other folk dance groups and place out at other festivals and special events.
    5. Posters often can be placed in store front windows with the owner's permission.
    6. Advertisements can be placed in Folk Dance Scene. If your festival is located near the center of the state, and ad in the northern Federation's Let's Dance magazine might be considered.
    7. All publicity should include dates, times, locations, costs, and directions. A map is worth a thousand rights and lefts.
    8. As a Federation Member Club, your accepted application guarantees a listing in the Federation Calendar of events, which is in Folk Dance Scene and the Council Meeting minutes.
    9. Flyers for Federation festivals may be sent out with the Federation Council Meeting minutes. For the quantity required and other information, contact the Federation Secretary.


  1. Collect Historical Items
    1. Provide the Federation Historian with all publicity items, newspaper clippings, pictures, and a program for inclusion in the Federation historical volume for the current fiscal year.