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Actively Rising Above: Turning Dreams Into Reality

After attending my first music festival, I truly could not get enough. The long lines to get through the front gates. The various stages my friends and I are constantly running back and forth from. The colorful and elaborate outfits festival-goers wear. The abundance of food stands ranging from fresh fruit smoothies to delicious island noodles. The booths selling beautiful jewels and unique artwork. And, most importantly, the phenomenal community of people that attend music festivals.

The summer of 2017 genuinely changed my life forever. That was the summer I attended my first music festival, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. While I had no idea what to expect, I was blown away by the experience. In the span of four days, I was able to experience and appreciate a plethora of music with thousands and thousands of others. People that I have never met, strangers, and I are were able to connect over our love of music. Music festivals are the only places where I have felt that people, regardless of their background, can put aside their differences and enjoy music. This peaceful, loving, and respectful unity is what made me realize I was meant to work in the festival industry.

Coming Into My Own: The Experience

As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed one day, I noticed an advertisement that I had never seen before. While I often see ads promoting music festivals and funky clothing-brands, I had never heard or seen anything about the Monster Energy Up & Up College Festival Series. Being the curious human-being that I am, I decided to do a little investigating. After applying online and several phone interviews, I accepted the position of Miami University’s Monster Energy Up & Up College Festival Series ambassador. My only goal was to win our university a music festival.

While winning is simple, winning is a daunting task. In order to win the Up & Up College Festival series, your school must be one of five schools with the most pre-sold tickets within a 48-hours window. If your school is one of the five winning colleges, Monster Energy will sponsor a music festival headlined by a well-known electronic dance music act at your university. This semester I competed against 34 schools to win a performance by Two Friends as well as many talented others. Therefore, in a few short weeks, I was faced with the task of promoting a music festival that may or may not happen.

When I first began, I felt completely lost. I had absolutely no idea where and how I would promote this show. However, the amazing Up & Up team supplied me with tons of footage and content to post on social media websites. So, I began with social media. Facebook was the first place where I informed Miami students as well as community members about this epic opportunity. I created a Facebook event and invited all of my Facebook friends that are associated with the university. Although I was able to reach roughly about a couple hundred people on Facebook, I decided to reach more students using my personal Instagram. Throughout the course of the contest, I posted numerous pictures and videos to my feed as well as my story. Using Instagram, I was able to reach far more students than on Facebook. Additionally, I sent an unimaginable number of emails. From fraternities and sororities to the President of Student Organizations, they were receiving an email to win a Two Friends concert experience. While I was able to reach an immense amount of people using social media, I was still concerned that not enough people knew about Miami’s role in the Monster Energy Up & Up College Festival Series.

Although I had countless marketing ideas, I was also only given fifty dollar budget. Therefore, I made my way to the local copy shop to print off as many flyers as fifty dollars would buy. After hanging up and passing out flyers —such as the picture on the left— all across campus and the Oxford community, I felt I had truly began to leave my mark. Whenever students and community members came across this flyer throughout Oxford, they were able to scan the QR code with their cell phone camera which would immediately take them to the Facebook event page. Hanging up flyers allowed me to reach my target market in ways that my social media efforts alone weren’t able to.

I spent roughly three weeks constantly thinking about Up & Up and how I could bring this wonderful arts opportunity to our small community. Time had gone by so unbelievably fast. It was like one second I was prepping for tickets sales and the next second tickets sales had begun. To be completely honest, when tickets went on sale, I braced myself for disappointment. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Throughout the 48-hour presale competition, the fantastic Up & Up team updated the “scoreboard” every few hours. After two hours, we had sold over 350 presale tickets. I was shocked. My Facebook event page only had accumulated about 150 responses, but the ticket sales told a whole new narrative. A narrative of support. A narrative of community. A narrative of a community coming together to experience and appreciate the arts.

Today, I am so beyond happy to say that Miami University was one of five winning schools competing in the Monster Energy Up & Up College Festival Series. Before finding out about Up & Up, I could not have imagined doing anything like this. Throughout the competition, there were countless times where I felt defeated and lost. There were many times I considered giving up because I was afraid no one would support me, but I was wrong. Because I decided to be brave and take a risk, I won a music festival. More importantly, I won an experience where people to put aside their differences and appreciate music in unity. I have the opportunity of sharing my favorite place on earth, a music festival.

Kelsey Borgarding is an education major with an art management co-major. She attended a performing-arts high school in Cincinnati where she specialized in vocal music and theatre. Kelsey enjoys shuffling, attending music festivals, and social justice.

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