By Joann Buckley Collins 

In what’s become a yearly tradition, each Spooky Season we swap horror stories on our blog, both real and imagined. These horror stories don’t involve zombies or scary skeletons, because when you produce events, some things are even more frightening than that.  

The Untested Tent Vendor
You’re in a brand new city, putting your faith in a brand new tent vendor. Surely they must know what they’re doing, right? When they show up on a site driving a 10-foot box truck that could only hold a fraction of the gear they’re supposed to be bringing you, you know you’re in for a long day of load-in. Ten hours later, as the tent truck heads back to their warehouse for their fourth and final trip, you can only hope you’ll eventually get some sleep tonight.  

The Missing Portajohns
Your event site is in a big beautiful field, miles away from traffic or crowds or… anything. Like toilets. Luckily, you’ve got an order of portajohns scheduled for an early morning delivery, just in time for your staff to utilize while they set up the site. But then why aren’t they here? Time to double check that invoice. Hmm…does it say 5 p.m. instead of 5 a.m.? Hope your set-up crew is good at “holding it.”  

The Witching Hour
This one’s quite a common tale. In fact, it happens with almost every event, so it shouldn’t be so scary anymore. But still it always sends chills up our spine when we look at our phones at the end of a long load-in day and realize we need to set that alarm clock for 3:30 a.m. And 3:35. And 3:40 and 3:45, just in case the first two don’t work.  

The Disappearing Route
Your route marking team worked long and hard to mark a safe and accurate route with signs and cones — a route that your planners spent months crafting carefully. But when you return the next morning, someone (Evil spirits? Mischievous goblins?) has removed key signage and moved cones, creating a new, mysterious route.  

The Evil Geese
You arrive to your event field, only to discover the beautiful lawn you had previewed when you booked the site is now an overgrown jungle of weeds and grass and…endless goose poop. Time to buy a lawnmower and hire a professional geese exorcist to drive out the demon birds.  

The Dark and Stormy Day
Your participants have been preparing for and anticipating your event for months now. You’ve been carefully crafting their experience and can’t wait to surprise and delight them. Well, your party has an unexpected last minute guest — a thunderstorm, complete with lightning and a torrential downpour. Time to break the bad news to your participants that the whole plan has to go out the window. Time to reimagine a different, perhaps indoor, event.  

Ghost Participants
Your database lists 500 registered participants. You’ve planned and purchased for 500 participants. But when event day arrives, your check-in staff with the clicker counts off 600…700…800. Where did all these people come from? Are they ghosts? And do you have enough water and snacks to feed them? What do ghosts eat, anyway?  

The Masqueraded Man
You notice a man in a highlighter-yellow safety vest out on the route, waving cars in through the gate as they arrive. A gate you thought you had blocked off. Who is that masked man? A confused volunteer? A stranger with a penchant for chaos who just happened to have a safety vest in his car? As soon as you can get to the gate to find out, he’s disappeared, leaving only his safety vest on the ground in his wake. 

Our team, or our event producer friends, have all faced these boogey-men, in some form or another, other the years, but we’ve survived, with minimal scars. We’ve lived to tell the tale. And the upside is, once you’ve faced down a monster in a haunted house, you know exactly how to prepare yourself to handle it the next time you see a scary monster.  

What are your worst spooktacular event stories? And how did you prevail? What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?  

Joann Buckley Collins

A graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Southern California, Joann Buckley Collins has been writing and implementing communications for nonprofits for more than 20 years. She’s been Event 360’s Senior Copywriter since 2004, bringing her expertise as both a writer and a strategist to our clients. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.


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