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What It’s Like Planning May Day Carnival

Planning an event like May Day Carnival is a lot to take on. I’m sure anyone who has ever attended this event can imagine just how much work goes into putting it all together and making it run smoothly. As an aspiring event planner, I was absolutely thrilled to take on this challenge and face it head on. The first few months of this process were rough – plans were all over the place, my co-chair had to step down from the position, and I had no idea what I was doing – but I had a lot of support from fellow Cabbies and was able to get on the right track fairly quickly. I had planned Stress Relief last semester, but I had two other co-chairs for that, so going into May Day by myself was kind of terrifying and there was a huge learning curve. Imagine sitting down and realizing that you are solely responsible for planning and organizing the biggest event of the spring semester that isn’t a concert – it’s a lot to process. So, with the event this weekend, I wanted to share a little about the planning process and how I kept myself on track.

Step 1: My vision

The first thing I did was decide what I wanted the event to be. There are things that we have every year, but the thing that makes it new and exciting is the way the event chair develops their vision for the event. My vision was to create a vintage carnival feel with some modern aspects mixed in. This vision guided me when choosing rides, creating a logo, researching food vendors, and picking entertainment. It’s what motivated me to get up and start physically planning out the event.

Step 2: Getting quotes

I think the most overwhelming part oft the whole process was getting quotes from different companies to see which one could give me the best price for what I wanted. Luckily I was able to work with Fun Enterprises to get the carnival rides so I didn’t have to go directly through the company, which made a lot of the planning process easier. There were a few weeks where my inbox was being inundated by emails from different companies giving me quotes and asking if I wanted to book their attractions. It was a crazy, overwhelming, but totally necessary process.

Step 3: Booking rides and vendors

This part really wasn’t that difficult because all I had to do was email the companies I had already contacted and tell them that I was ready to book them for the event. Once I did that, I was able to get contracts signed and finalize who and what would be at the event.

Step 4: Logo

One of my fellow Cabbies is an incredible artist and I asked her if she would be willing to design the logo for us, which she was, and I was able to work closely with her to design something that I really loved! This logo was put on the staff shirts, posters, and promotional stickers that will be handed out at the event. I think I was most excited about all of this stuff because it was the only tangible thing I could see before the event. It was the only thing that I could really control and make sure that it would be perfect.

Step 5: Putting it all together

I’m still working on this step, as I’m writing this before the event happens, but it really is quite a big one. I have to make sure that we have done enough advertising, everything is getting set up correctly and in the proper locations, I have enough volunteers, and we have all of the supplies we need. I’ve spent the last week begging Cabbies to sign up for more shifts because this event is so huge and requires all hands on deck, and the past few days have been focused on making sure the rides are set up and ready to go for the event. I’m trying really hard to keep myself organized through this by making a schedule of when vendors are arriving to set up. There have been some road blocks along the way, but those are behind me now and I can focus on the excitement and thrill of seeing it all come together. 


I hope everyone who attends May Day this year can enjoy the event and take a break from that end of the year stress. I can’t say I won’t be sad when it’s all over, but it will be a relief. Planning May Day has been quite a journey, but the end of one journey means the start of another. I am beyond grateful for the incredible experiences being May Day chair has given me, and I know that they will be valuable when I head out into the world to pursue a career as an event planner, but I’m excited to start my next journey as Director of the Campus Activities Board next year! 

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