Weather reports control event attendance at outdoor summer festivals

The weather this month has been perplexing to say the least.  Just this past week, our heat kicked on pretty much the same number of times as the air-conditioner.  I’ve worn my wool coat to work three days and have returned home with barely a fleece.

While I know nothing about meteorology I’m hopeful that this inconsistent climate is merely a blip in the Farmer’s Almanac and not the foreshadowing of glaciers melting and careening into my Chicago two- flat leaving only this virtual blog as living proof of the raging ignorance our society has for climate maleficence.

The topic of weather is never ending.  From the brutal, record winning tundra of this past winter to the impending heat blasts predicted for this summer, it’s always the news of the day.  Outdoor events put a lot of stock in the weather forcing event organizers to constantly pray and chant for perfect temperatures.

The weather reporters, however, provide hope! (Yes, I’m looking at you Ginger Zee, Jerry Taft, Andy Avalos and lest I forget, Chicago’s most iconic meteorologist, Tom Skilling).  Meteorologists have the ability to control event attendance. They can see the future and can tell organizers what to expect.  And when it’s going to be sunny and gorgeous they are sure to report the good news.


However, it’s been proven that good news doesn’t generate ratings.  When bad weather is imminent people watch the local news 3 to 4 times more to see how it’s going to materialize.  Understandably, if the weather report said it’s going to be sunny and gorgeous for the next 5 days why would people continue to watch? They have the good news they were hoping for and will be on their way.

If the weather report says it’s going to be sunny all week but there’s a good chance for thunderstorms people will keep coming back to stay informed.  The challenge for outdoor event organizers is that people begin to make “plan b” decisions as the weekend gets closer.

My event producing colleagues and I have noticed over the years that if the weather reporters begin saying on Monday that showers and thunderstorms are possible for the upcoming weekend and continue with that message throughout the week that by Thursday people will likely make other plans for the weekend.  The weekend can arrive with clear, sunny skies but because weather reporters called for showers and thunderstorms all week the attendance is noticeably lower.

There’s an old saying amongst my peers, “if the weather is perfect and attendance is through the roof, the organizer is a genius! If the weather is rainy, cold and the attendance is in the toilet the organizer didn’t work hard enough on marketing, advertising and programming. “

As the summer approaches, all I ask is that weather reporters of local media outlets consider their power.  The weather makes or breaks many outdoor festivals.  If the glaciers are coming please be sure to tell us, but if there’s a chance the skies are going to be clear and sunny I beg you to let everyone know as soon as possible.

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