By Marlena Solomon, Marketing Manager
When I started in the role of Marketing Manager last May, included in the myriad of my new responsibilities was managing the Texas Renaissance Festival Ambassador program. On July I posted on the Ambassador Facebook page introducing myself, and announcing the annual backpack drive that provides needed school supplies to the students of Grimes County. What I was greeted with was 75 people who welcomed me with open arms into the family as I was dubbed the "Cat Herder".
I think a lot of the Ambassadors came to the backpack drive and following luncheon because they were curious about me. Who was I, this new leader of the cats? What was I bringing to the table and how was I going to manage this crew? The backpack drive was an overwhelming success with 75 backpacks collected and the lunch was a fun casual way to have some one-on-one time with the Ambassadors. I don't know if the Magnolia Diner knew what they were getting into when we walked in the door! :)
As the season progressed I learned to value the TRF Ambassadors as they helped me navigate my way through my first season including garbing, putting on a corset and surviving in it all day, best places to eat, camping, After Dark, and who can forget the "Found Marlena" social challenge! But even more importantly supporting TRF pre-season and during season events that included The Annual Magnolia Stroll, Saint Arnold's Revel Fest, Feed Thy Neighbor at the Houston Food Bank, 242 Grill and Pub events and most recently the TRF RV Show Tour. It's so easy to let people "do their thing" at events when you know they are passionate about every aspect of the festival!
Before the 2019 season began it was announced that it would be the last year for the TRF Ambassador group as it existed. It was very apparent that there needed to be some revision to the program. Throughout the season some Ambassadors were filled with trepidation and there were questions if they would be back in the program again. I kicked around the idea of changing the name, but after realizing people had tons of TRF Ambassador wear, decided to dub it the "New" Ambassador program. Kind of like a radio station that reinvents itself and calls itself "new" for a year.
So what is new for the New Ambassadors? Most of all accountability. There is a point system designed to reward those who are able to attend TRF Ambassador events. Of course there is the acknowledgement that many and most of the events are held in the north of Houston/Magnolia area. That is simply because that is where the festival is located, but TRF Ambassadors ARE allowed to gain points in their own community when getting to an event is not possible. That means at work, in your community, at school - where else can you promote the festival? Wearing a t-shirt to the event can spark a conversation about the festival and the Ambassador group. Posters and brochures for Festival, Camping, Weddings and School Days will be available for distribution.
The New Ambassador program has been launched in two phases. First, the current Ambassadors. They were asked to create a one minute video that talked about their history at TRF and as Ambassador, their social media activity, garb/costume and what ideas they might bring to the table. Those submissions closed on Monday at midnight. The second round is for new Ambassadors to the program who want to go forth and spread the good news about the Festival. The call went out yesterday and with the window for New Ambassadors closing March 9.
Attrition was expected from the current group of Ambassadors. Many bowed out gracefully for many reasons including personal reasons such as family, time, and distance. Totally understandable, and I thank them all for their time and continued love of the festival.
A current Ambassador who was considering leaving the group, recently changed her mind after she volunteered at one of the recent RV shows and I was thrilled! She said, "I just truly love the program and all it stands for. Faire was the first place that made me feel like I was ok just the way I am and so it's very dear to my heart." Oh my gosh - all the feels here, and this made my heart smile.
My response to her and all of our New Ambassadors. - "The intent of the new ambassadors is not to be exclusive but inclusive. We're passionate about all aspects of the fair that is our comfort place and our family and home away from home." After one season at the festival and almost a year as Marketing Manager I truly believe that.
I invite you to consider being a part of the TRF New Ambassadors. Read over the handbook on the website to see what it's all about. If you have questions feel free to email me at msolomon at texrenfest.com. Yes I have to spell it out because of the platform our site is built on!
Before you know if we'll be gathering as a new group of Ambassadors in April - see you soon!