It was a little over a year ago that Megan Marshall had every reason to still be worried about the future of events in a post-COVID-19 world.
As the owner of Leawood-based event planning firm Farfalla Events, Marshall watched as the Omicron variant created a new wave of uncertainty in Kansas City and beyond.
To her, it raised fresh questions about the viability of gatherings and events moving forward.
Her first indoor event of 2022, The Good Living Expo that January at the Overland Park Convention Center, felt the effects of those lingering pandemic concerns and suffered accordingly.
“It wasn’t that long ago that we still feared if things don’t get better the indoor events won’t survive,” Marshall said. “It was definitely challenging, and (because of it) I decided to focus on new ways to generate business.”
Now, more than three years after the pandemic’s initial onset, Marshall sees an entirely different road ahead as the summer of 2023 approaches.
Farfalla is busy preparing events — both indoor and outdoor — at popular Johnson County venues for the remainder of this year, and has also started booking for 2024.
Spring ‘Chick Event’ in Leawood was a success
As Marshall began pivoting toward opportunities for less restricted events during COVID-19, she acquired Chick Events, an outdoor shopping event that had been around since 2014.
It’s hosted nearly 20 events, which are now exclusively held in the parking lot of Leawood’s Town Center Plaza.
Marshall also made key changes to the event when she took it over in 2022.
“I decided to make ‘Chick Events’ free of admission since it’s an outdoor event, and I just wanted people to come out,” Marshall said. “That really changed the whole vibe. People started bringing their pets, and it became about family time.”
This spring’s event was held May 6-7 and brought together a wide assortment of local vendors, makers and artisans.
The event took advantage of some good weather. Forecasted rain never made it to Town Center that weekend.
Visitors were also treated to local creations including artisanal coffee, honey, hot sauce and popcorn.
Marshall and her staff were thrilled with the turnout, and they aim to keep bringing special elements to future gatherings as more people return to events like these.
“People are coming back out to events like this not just to shop,” Marshall said. “They’re coming for a unique experience that you can provide them.
Marshall has hope for future events
For Farfalla’s event offerings, like Chick Events, that means creating events for the whole family, featuring food trucks, kids’ areas that include attractions like petting zoos and interactive areas with photography.
The Chick Event at Town Center featured a record number of local businesses with mobile vehicles, Marshall said.
For instance, Rachel and Erik Messner of Messner Bee Farm showcased the “Messner Farm Mobile Bee Shop,” which transports their inventory of everything from local honey to lip balm. The renovated trolley car was one of nine mobile units at the show.
“I’m always looking for ways to bring a different touch to our events that other people don’t want to do,” Marshall said. “Town Center is a great home for pop events like these.”
Marshall will also continue to lean heavily on the nearby Overland Park Convention Center for indoor offerings.
The “Just For Her” shopping expo will take place from June 23-25. This year’s event theme is “Ladies Night Out,” with a focus on women’s health.
Despite the success of Chick Events, Marshall is happy that the 250+ vendors for the June “Ladies Night Out” event will be able to enjoy an indoor, climate controlled facility.
“The weather around here always keeps you on your toes,” Marshall said.
Upcoming events planned by Farfalla:
- “Just For Her” summer shopping expo, June 23-25, Overland Park Convention Center
- Fall Chick Event, Oct. 7-8, Leawood’s Town Center Plaza
- KC Love, Feb. 24-25, 2024, Kansas City’s Union Station
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