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South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2015: How One Space Was Used for 4 Major Events

To accommodate the mix of one-day and four-day sponsors, organizers moved quickly to redecorate the festival's north end tent, home to events like Burger Bash.

By Tracy Block February 24, 2015, 3:41 PM EST

Photo: Elizabeth Renfrow for BizBash

At the 14th annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival, many sponsoring brands have found a home in the festival's north end tent, which hosts major events like the Burger Bash and Best of the Munchies closing party.

The festival, from title sponsors the Food Network and Cooking Channel, allows brands to set up activations for one night or for the duration of the event, which took place in Miami Beach Thursday to Sunday. This year, brands such as Ronzoni, Illy, Strongbow, Amstel Light, Coca-Cola, Buick, Groupon, and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino had an ongoing presence inside the tent and on the beachside space outside.

Not only did some of the sponsor activations flip, but the decor did as well for the nightly major events at the space, which also included the Al Fresco Feast and Meatopia: The Q Revolution. Festival founder Lee Brian Schrager noted that about 20 percent of the 3,000 nightly attendees in the space returned for other events there, so mixing up the decor kept them engaged.

From the cream-colored accents that complemented the pasta-theme Al Fresco Feast to laid-back lounges and hammocks at the Best of the Munchies closing party, the north tent was reinvented throughout the four-day festival. Schrager said sponsors had a voice in the look of the venue.

“Ronzoni had a lot of say in Al Fresco, just like General Mills did at the Best of the Munchies,” he said. “It's a combination of the event managers and the sponsor team working with the producers to collaborate on everything. Ultimately it just comes down to there being a sponsor name on everything. We've got to work with them, and it's important that we all work together.”

Panache, a Classic Party Rentals company, was a key partner in the venue's daily transformation, supplying 80 truckloads of rentals, including linens, tabletops, seating, and catering equipment. “Together, we try to decide what we can do each night, from the entrance façade to the signage, to different lighting, to the stage, to our big focal points under the tent,” Schrager said.

Carrying out the vision was a team that included contracted laborers as well as student volunteers from festival beneficiary Florida International University.

“There's a whole break down, disposing of garbage, cleaning the look, changing the chandelier, switching the signage, trussing,” Schrager said. “There are hundreds of people involved in the process in between each event to get it set up  and ready to go the next day.”

One element that was unexpected from a planning standpoint was the unseasonably cold weather that arrived at the start of the festival. Planners had to secure space heaters for both inside and outside of the event tent. Said Schrager: “This is why we have contingency money set aside—for elements like that.”

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