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O'Fest Poll - New Format Better or Worse

Discussion in 'Member Feedback' started by kfin2202, Sep 28, 2008.

    • Member

    kfin2202

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    So what did you think about the new format/schedule for O'fest this year? Like it or not? Also what about the change in raffle car awards? Personally I did not care for the schedule change and don't think it improved the experience. The lack of car awards made during the week took much of the exitement out of the event. Certainly the final banquet was completely flat with nothing to generate any excitement.

    I do like the monday concour as it seems to give participants a better chance to compete and then enjoy the week.

    Other thoughts?
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    There was a concours on MONDAY? Then a welcome reception on Tuesday evening, another concours on Wednesday (while I was at the track in a school) ...? I think you misspoke.

    I am not thrilled with this format myself. It is supposed to take up only one weekend, I guess, but for anyone traveling a longer distance, it forces you to take another weekday or skip out on Sunday's events - which I did - to get home by Monday. And this is after traveling on Monday and Tuesday anyway.

    I think we need to face the simple fact that to do everything at an O'Fest, it takes you a week and at least a day out of each 'bookend' weekend. You might manage by moving everything back one day so that Monday is a 'get there & get settled in' day. Folks coming from halfway across the country can still make it using only the previous Sunday. They can get home by skipping some stuff on the anticlimactic Saturday. [Which idea I do like. The banquet at the very end was always a problem for me.]

    Although I missed seeing some people, I think the 'day pass' concept is a good one to get more folks in for at least part of the week. It should be continued. While some of the Old Farts© remember everyone - or nearly everyone - doing everything (I must include myself in that group), our club is now too big and too diverse to expect that of more than a mere handful of people. Doing an event and giving out the awards for it that same day works.

    That brings us to the awards banquet. This thing only rarely doesn't 'jump the shark' about a half hour after dessert ... but it never ends there. Maybe we don't need to verbally thank every single blessed sponsor other than noting their generous donations as we receive them. I would guess that all of them know our appreciation by our continuing patronage. Maybe hang up big banners throughout the dinner for each and, with a sweep of the hand, "Please thank each of these sponsors for helping get us all out of here at a decent hour." It couldn't be too hard to have a continuous slide show of sponsors on the otherwise idle projection screen to subconsciously brand their names in our memories.

    Bobby Rahal, I love ya, man. You are one of my heroes. But please; I don't want to hear that you have two yet-to-be-named drivers for next year and you're damn glad BMW is fronting some cars. I can get that kind of excitement watching NASCA- I mean SPEED - TV. I want to know if you soiled your Nomex crashing and burning the old BMW GTP car. You aren't so old that you've completely forgotten every single run through those southern Ohio hills in the 'tii. Oktoberfest is a time to be more of a car guy than a car owner. I hope you will come back next year, win or lose. Spend a minute or two on that and then move on. Any guy who can make that "clubbing baby seals" crack about vintage racing is lots more entertaining than you were Saturday. For an object lesson in how to clear a hall, recall Ray Korman's scintillating presentation. With all due respect to his great working ability, he could suck the excitement out of an account of rolling a car nine times.

    OK; I've annoyed enough folks for now. "I'll be here all week ..."
    • Member

    woodym3

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    I'm guessing that this year's Wednesday (OK, Tuesday night) through Sunday schedule had to do with the Boston and GV Chapters already reserving the track for those days. I hope we go back to a Monday-Friday schedule, with club races taking place the preceding or following Saturday and Sunday. Keep the Concours d'Elegance early in the week. That way the rally can include some dirt roads if available. The Lonzo Fazool night rally was a real hoot - not a little bit of gravel roads, but a whole lot of dirt roads with some gravel on turns to make it dicey trying to maintain a 40mph average. What a shame only 17 cars competed.
    Raffle? There was a raffle at O'fest? I thought it took place weeks ago. Bring back the excitement.
    Too bad there was no hotel in the Glen area that would hold the majority of participants. There was a distinct lack of O'fest participants in the local bars and restaurants. I felt sorry for those staying 45-minutes away in Ithaca.
    Woody Hair
    • Member

    kfin2202

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    Have to agree that the host hotel issue was BIG. We were staying at houses on Lake Keuka and being on the opposite side of the track was more like a vacation than an O'fest event. We really missed all the interaction around the hotel and taking up our usual position in the seating area outside the elevator lobby to "Meet and Greet" all attendees.

    We also traveled, 1700 miles this trip, and those racing home almost killed themselves doing it in two days and still had to take an extra vacation day. The new schedule benefits NO ONE as far as I can tell.

    On a plus side the food at the events this year was very good I thought.

    I'm hoping the board does a formal look back or survey to see what membership thought. My guess is the consensus would be to return to the old schedule with some minor sequencing changes. Record numbers this event had to to do with Watkins Glen for the track and being in a rather heavily populated region versus any love of the agenda.

    An please, please, please, go back to the nightly drawings for new cars! This change alone sucked most of the enthusiasm and excitement out of this years event. I was all a titter waiting for the 5 or 6 names to be called for the awards.

    Regarding Ray Kormans thing, did anyone know what the agenda was for the banquet? Was it posted and I missed it somewhere? Granted leaving Houston without any internet access for the previous week due to Hurricane Ike left us a little behind. We do this thing every year and it comes off like no one knows what the agenda is. I really felt sorry for Ray since 75% if the audience was gone by the time he was called up.

    Thank goodness for good friends and a great great track. Based on the program and organization this year I wouldn't come back for another. Let's hope member preference and common sense prevails before Atlanta.
    • Member

    EuroWerkz1

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    On purely the subject of new format? I'll give it a B+. Come on friends let's give credit where credit is due. This event has been dying year by year and bringing it here along with shortening it up a bit helped a lot. 800 plus registrations? that is much better. I personally think they need at least one more day to make it fit correctly but at the very least the early Concours and Great (and close) track venue was a huge improvement. I say very Good if not Great job by all involved and especially Mr.Steven Schollsman who kept us totally informed and updated. Now does Oktoberfest need work? Oh yeah, more than I can even imagine doing and without additional and better equipped staff at the National level it may even be asking too much but this was for sure a giant step forward to overhauling and moving forward with this once great event.

    Now how about we use this thread or create a seperate O'fest opinion subject forum thread and use it to and try to help the people at the BMW CCA build the event we all want to see?
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    Well, they did create a blog for input even though this thread was already here and even though I am sure Schlossman is reading this. Right, Steve? Be sure to get Linda to read this, too.
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    MGarrison

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    I don't think I can agree that O'fest has been a dying event year after year. I think the reality is that attendance levels vary over the years, for various reasons, one of them being the track venue. Watkin's Glen itself I think was a big part of the draw this year, due to its long-standing ties to auto-racing history, and being one of the great tracks in the country today.

    Out of 1100 people, I would think it's possible some of the increased attendance this year may have been influenced by the so-called shortened schedule, but I would tend to think bigger factors would be the locale of the track in the country combined w/ the appeal of the track itself. Especially since, at 5 days (6 if you include the track events Sunday), O'fest wasn't actually any shorter than it typically has been. This year, it just started two days later. Asserting that O'fest needs another day in order to work well also counters the suggestion that O'fest attendance was up because the event was shorter - that would imply that adding another day would decrease attendance numbers.

    I asked a number of people what they thought about the 'shorter' O'fest format - I didn't get a single positive, either from long-time attendees, or newcomers.

    If things had wrapped up on Friday, perhaps it would be a different story - as it was, I heard more than once that people were taking work off Monday to accomodate the schedule.

    Seriously, if we're going to pack into a week _everything_ we typically have done at prior O'fests, it's pretty much going to mean a full schedule everyday, Mon-Fri., and leaving a weekend at either end - which allows the bulk of attendees within a do-able mileage range the time they'll need for transit.

    As I perceived it, part of the idea w/ the car drawing this year was, by doing the drawing early, give winners the opportunity to be AT O'fest and present for the grand prize drawing. I think national will have to judge how well that worked - how many winners opted to attend O'fest, or at least the banquet, in order to be on hand? With something like nearly 80k members, the odds of actually having a national raffle winner at O'fest has got to be pretty slim, so apparently this was an attempt to mix it up a little bit and attempt to have some of the winners there. I can't speak for what ideas were bandied about, I wonder if they thought about drawing some ahead of time, and some at the receptions? Then I suppose there's the practical issues of shuffling the raffle drum around while maintaining its security, along with whatever all else there is, raffle-wise. As I recall, didn't they try to do a car raffle for attendees at a prior O'fest?

    I do hope the national office staff will take time to read all the survey feedback (and additional comments), and consider them seriously.

    Oh.. ya... geez, could they have scheduled any less time for the gymkhana? I'm guessing that was due to it having to happen in the same spot as two days of autocrossing, but typically, that runs over 2-3 days and you have a chance to squeeze it in somewhere - I didn't get a chance for it due to a conflicting schedule.

    It's a massive amount of hard work to co-ordinate, organize, and pull off an event of this scale w/ this number of attendees. Of course there's plenty of room for improvement in many areas, but Steven, Linda, all the chapter leaders/volunteers, and the national office staff and board all deserve kudos for making it happen, and, all things considered, relatively smoothly at that.
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    Brian A

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    Thoughts from someone who didn't attend

    I think that the communications/advertizing to build excitement for Oktoberfest was very well done this year. It added to the last couple of year's efforts to demystify Oktoberfest.

    While I did not attend Oktoberfest, the advertising really made me very aware of what I would be missing and legitimately convinced me that I was missing out on fun. The testimonials in Roundel by first timers particularly helped me understand that O'fest is not a "closed club" of long timers.

    Now that I know the massive attendance numbers, I really feel like I've missed something special. I hadn't realized that Oktoberfest was that big. However, for this "salary man", the time commitment is too big and ultimately that is why I didn't attend. Shuffling days wouldn't help.

    I did not find the track venue any more compelling than others. What I feel like I missed out on was attending an event which would allow me to meet some of the characters in the CCA world, attend technical sessions, race autocross, and be a spectator on some of the activities that I do not usually do (such as concours, track racing and rallying). For clarification, the reason why the race venue does not attract me is because I own a convertible. (My 1987 325i convertible is my first and only BMW, but a car with which I've had a long and torrid relationship.) I admit that would change if I get a tintop.

    As advertised, the banquets and awards ceremonies don't sound appealing. I enjoy good speakers, but not the rest of a banquet. I would much more prefer a venue conducive to informal encounters during meals etc, and maybe being able to hitch a ride or two in someone's high-zoot race car. I like informal interaction.

    Regarding the raffle, all raffles are about hope and anticipation. Most people don't win. The enjoyment comes from playing the "what if" game in the time between when the ticket is purchased and when the draw is made. It would certainly be cool to know in advance the date and time when the draws would be made. At the event, I am sure everyone just wants the draw to be made in a way and in a venue which maximizes the anticipation.

    I've said too much for someone who didn't attend and doesn't have much salience to the question at hand, but I write this in an earnest effort to be helpful.

    It sounds like I missed a lot of fun. Someday, someday, someday, I will attend.
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    Bimmerdan

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    I'm going to try and keep this relatively short (relative as compared to War and Peace)...

    This was our 19th straight O'Fest so I have some past history to compare this one to. I was one of those people that had to take an extra day of vacation just to get home. If the committee's wish is to bring people in from all over the country, they need to allow travel time! As was mentioned earlier, they "shortened" O'Fest, yet it cost me one more day vacation than any of the other past 18?! I see absolutely no advantage to this schedule!!

    If you want to shorten it, run it from Tuesday to Friday or Monday to Thursday and leave the weekends for travel. If people want to attend a 2-day event, then there should be regional events set up for that purpose. I am certainly not going to drive for 1700 miles to attend a 2-day event!

    At past O'Fests, I've always enjoyed the registration area because that's where you get to see all the friends you haven't seen for the past year. Normally you get to hang out and visit and walk over to the bar and have a beer with old friends but this year it was get in line, get your stuff and go away.

    I really like the idea of the concours at the beginning, that was a very good move. The autocross and driver's schools were great also. Just like MGarrison, I never got a chance to run the gymkhana either, it needed to run all day, not half a day.

    I know some of the issues this year were related to the venue itself but by having EVERYTHING at the track, it put too much focus on the track events and not enough on the social ones. Let's face it, there are a lot of people that do not attend O'Fest for the track events...they do it for the social aspect. O'Fest needs to be held at a large host hotel with a central meeting location that allows everyone to 'hang out' in the same area. I'm curious to know how the vendors felt about this years 'vendor area'? It felt more like a big garage sale to me.

    The dessert reception at the Corning museum was great although it would have been nice to have a little more time to look around. Everytthing was so spread out that by the time you left the track, went back and showered and changed and got to the museum, it didn't leave much time.

    As for the final banquet, all I'm going to say is it was the worst one we've attended in 19 years. The food was excellent and it was a cool setting but there was NO excitement at all. The slide show was on such small screen that only the front half could really see it, the audio was very weak and knowing that nobody I knew was going to win a car, took all the energy out of it. Who cares if the winner is present or not!? In past years, they have actually called the winners at home to tell them they won and put the call on the PA so everyone could hear the conversation...that was VERY cool and added an incredible amount of energy and anticipation to the evening.

    Steven did an amazing job at keeping everyone informed and up to date and should be given a medal for everything he's done...well done Steven!!

    As for the "O'Fest Committee"...you guys need to read all the input and listen to the membership at large and hopefully make some major adjustments before next year.

    The End....
    • Member

    kfin2202

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    Thank you for your comments Brian. I think your observations were very accurate and astute. So we have thoughts from seasoned veterans and near novices. Good diversity.

    I'm unclear what review the O'Fest gets other than the traditional survey which aside from added comments doesn't really address the format. I was hoping this thread would provide an opportunity for many to voice their opinions more specificahlly than in the surveys. So keep the dialog going. I expect that national staff and hopefully National Officers are following the discussion.

    It would also be misleading and negligent to not compliment the efforts of all the national staff and chapter volunteers that delivered the event. I know they worked tirelessly to plan and execute the event. To be clear the topic is the format/schedule/agenda not the level of effort expended by all in the interests of hosting a huge national event benefiting us all.

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