Published on Newsplex
The fifth annual Tom Tom Founders Festival concluded in April, and after tallying the numbers, 38,000 people went to the festival this year. That is a record-breaking number of attendees for the festival and officially makes this the most successful one to date. Director Paul Beyer says he’s already looking ahead to next year. He said, “It was a big year across the board and I think the lesson I took from it was just stay true to the mission of the festival, which is if you rely on the community to be the inspiration and really move the event forward it will be successful.” When compared to last year, Tom Tom saw a 45-percent increase in festival attendance, and Beyer says the community has everything to do with it. “I think when you have that kind of broad based support and broad based participation you just will have very big attendance from throughout the community. And then increasingly folks hearing about this from out of town and coming to actually visit for Tom Tom,” he said. It certainly caught the attention of one public figure. Beyer said, “Probably my favorite moment was when Governor [Terry] McAuliffe came and signed a bill at our youth summit and this was a brand new event. It came about from one of our interns, Keaton Wadzinski, who said we really need to focus on youth entrepreneurship.” Tom Tom organizers open their doors to the community in town hall-style meetings, inviting stakeholders, organizations and the general public to share their ideas. And they’re already thinking ahead to next year. “Our community roots and really this incredibly diverse group of people here in Charlottesville that believe in the mission, believe in this vision of Charlottesville as a creative hub, a destination for entrepreneurship and just making big things happen here.” Beyer said. “So that’s what I look to for next year, getting those folks back in the room and really just saying it’s a blank slate let’s do something amazing in 2017.” Organizers are now taking the summer months to talk about how to make next year’s Tom Tom Founders Festival even more impactful.