Creating a festival is no small undertaking. The process requires a creative spirit, a clear vision, a talented and experienced staff, the ability to attract sponsors, and a marketing strategy aimed at a defined target. It’s generally a long-term process that takes time to hit its stride. Yet, local entrepreneur and business owner Diane Lyons seems to have hit her mark with FestiGals after only her second festival undertaking.
A 25-year veteran meeting and special events planner, Lyons recent four-day weekend festival aimed at women, wrapped up June 21 through 24 with impressive numbers and to rave reviews. About 400 women from over 15 states across the country converged on New Orleans to take part in a variety of empowerment seminars, workshops, and cultural experiences designed to showcase the Crescent City to a diverse cross-section of women. Headlining it all was none other than NBC’s Today Show co-host Hoda Kotb who was paired with a cause that women everywhere respond to, cancer. By the time FestiGals 2012 concluded, over $23,000 was raised from a most unusual auction that had patrons in a bidding frenzy over bra-art created by an A-list of celebrities. Kotb’s own bra creation fetched a hefty $5,000 on the auction block while Louisiana Zydeco King Rockin’ Dopsie’s washboard bra went for a whopping $7,200. The Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans, CAGNO, is the non-profit group that benefited directly from FestiGals generosity. “CAGNO is very humbled to have been selected by FestiGals as this year’s beneficiary of their fundraising initiative. Because of FestiGals, countless cancer patients in our community will not have to make the difficult choice between necessary medications and treatment or meeting basic living expenses,” explained CAGNO Executive Director Tammy Swindle. “I can honestly say that the women of FestiGals have made a huge difference in the quality of life for area women who face the serious challenges of battling cancer,” said CAGNO’s Board President Wendy Vitter.
Recapping FestiGals second year by the numbers extends beyond the success of the organization’s community component. “FestiGals moved its original date from busy October to quiet June, partly to fill a seasonal void,” stated Mark Romig CEO of New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation. Of course moving their date meant producing two major FestiGals events in just twenty months leaving a total of eight months to rally troops and make it work for this year. And work it did, especially when you consider FestiGals in terms of contributing its fair share to support the local economy of tourism. According to Kelly Schulz, Vice President of Communications for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and a FestiGals advisory board member, “…the FestiGals concept is something that tourism officials believe will catch on. I think that the intimacy of the offering is a strong selling point, especially for women.” With an ever-growing surge of New Orleans’ popularity as a top travel destination of choice, the support of both the local CVB and the NOTMC and the backing of an impressive list of high profile sponsors and event partners, FestiGals is perfectly positioned for continued success well into the future.
FestiGals Weekend is presented annually in New Orleans during the month of June. The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau both endorse this unique four-day women’s festival. FestiGals offers something for women of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Voted “Best Girls Getaway” in 2011 by AAA Southern Traveler, FestiGals provides the ultimate New Orleans women’s experience. Committed to both raising awareness and resources for issues that impact today’s women, FestiGals is a non-profit entity whose net proceeds support targeted community projects that benefit women. FestiGals 2012 sponsors included Monteleone Hotel, Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, LouisianaTravel.com, the City of New Orleans, NewOrleansOnline.com, Renaissance Publishing, Whitney Bank, EJGH Healthy Lifestyles, Lulu B., YellaWood Pressure Treated Pine, Cupcake Vodka, Stein Mart, Women’s Energy Network-Southeast Louisiana and NOLA.com. To learn more about FestiGals, visit www.FestiGals.org.