Pepsi is entering its fourth year of sponsorship of FiddleFest, a not-for-profit bluegrass music festival held annually on the campus of Hollins University, just north of Roanoke, VA. What makes the sponsorship unique is that, in addition to cash and merchandise, Pepsi helps promote the festival by manufacturing soda cans that display the event logo, details and contact information.
For 2006, Pepsi has printed 1.5 million Mountain Dew cans which are distributed to retail outlets in VA, WV, MD, NC, SC, TN and KY. Not only do they increase awareness of the festival, the cans are also becoming collector’s items, especially prized by artists who perform at the festival.
FiddleFest organizer Mike Conner described how important corporate sponsorship has become to event producers of every size and type.
“It is my opinion that sponsorship with corporate partners is the ONLY way that festivals can expect to survive for the long term. You must create a product that is worthy, then work very hard in creating and maintaining ties to the corporate world, and be able to show them some value for their money. In the case of non-profit events like FiddleFest, its the only way to get something like this off the ground. The only exceptions I can think of would be an event where talent donates their time, as talent is by far the largest single expense, or an event that has a large gift or grant from an individual. The MACC festival in Ohio, and the first Merlefest are two examples of the former. I’m not aware of any example of the latter. To those that believe that the event should stand on its own, even the Super Bowl has sponsors. It is how things get done.”
FiddleFest will be held July 28-29, 2006 with performances by Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Wildfire, The Dale Ann Bradley Band and many others. They also feature wokshops and round table discussions with the various artists on the bill, plus opportunities for amateur pickers to join in organized jam sessions with members of the featured bands.