The National Street Rod Association (NSRA) has been serving its members, street rod fanatics, for the last 42 years. We provide fun events to engage our enthusiasts across the country. I joined NSRA in 1971 as a charter member and spent thirteen years serving the organization in a volunteer capacity. In 1984, I made my hobby my work, becoming the Special Events Director for NSRA. Currently, I am responsible for the production and presentation of four national events each year, and I continue to attend and assist my fellow event directors who coordinate an additional seven events serving our 53,000 members.
When I first became an events director, one of the contacts given to me by my predecessor was the local CVB. I reached out to them and quickly learned there was a lot more to a CVB than I ever imagined, and each and every year since, I have continued to learn even more reasons why using a CVB makes my job easier. I have seen first-hand how a CVB in a destination can integrate our event seamlessly into the city, providing the attendees with an insider view of all there is to do and to take advantage of, and at the same time giving the local community a look at what NSRA is all about, too! Regardless of whether you need to use all of the services available, there is a lot of value a good CVB provides anyone planning an event in any destination.
A good CVB is almost like having a satellite office filled with all local staff members. Their knowledge of the area and the available resources to fit your needs are amazing. This is particularly true of our relationship with the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation (KTSC). For many years, the Nats South was the first event of the year, kicking off our rodding season. We have been in Knoxville the first weekend of May for over 30 years. When you become really familiar and secure in a working relationship, the benefits are many. Our Knoxville event feels like going “home” and it is a special city. The individual friendships made through the workplace will last a lifetime.
Knoxville TSC helps us fine tune the event. We rely on them as we initially book our accommodations and negotiate contracts for room blocks in the city. We use them to manage our registration process, and we additionally depend on them to provide the wealth of local contacts and connections that are needed to make our event run smoothly. Our 2011 event in Knoxville attracted over 3000 cars and their families, together with our vendors that brought almost 13,630 people to the destination. Our event includes a broad array of activities: commercial exhibits, arts and crafts fair, entertainment on the grounds, even a Sunday worship service. The destination experts in Knoxville provide us the contacts and resources to make the production and coordination of our event so much easier than it would ever be going it alone.
They are even involved in very specific areas of coordination like out first aid. We used to work with the Red Cross until we were alerted by a local contact that the size of our event demanded greater safety. Now the KTSC works directly with the fire department to coordinate our first aid needs. Additionally, they have provided contacts and assistance in connecting us with the Knoxville Police Department to help with traffic control in and out of our event each day. We even do a “Knoxville pick” where a city official comes out and judges a car and presents an award. We’ve been told, they even argue about who gets to come out and do it! The Knoxville CVB helps to make this and more happen.
In our host cities, all of the contacts we need are already at the fingertips of the CVB. It would be extremely difficult to operate efficiently without their assistance. With all the events we produce, the list of ways the CVB can help could go on and on. In Knoxville, it ultimately goes back to the friendships that have been created over the years. They genuinely welcome the event as much as we enjoy going there, and if I ever run into a snag, I am confident the support will be there.
The NSRA motto is “Having Fun with Cars”. I try to do just that with both of my street rods too, all while doing my best to produce a quality, fun and total family event for our attending members, participants and guests to enjoy and remember. Working with the local CVB assures a successful event in every way, and that you can also “Have Fun While Producing an Event.”