Flynn Box Office Manager
When a show goes on sale for the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds, it’s always an event in itself. The venue holds approximately 10,000 people, and national acts play there every summer during the week that leads up to Labor Day. So the date that a show goes on sale is always exciting.
The latest show to go on sale was The Jonas Brothers, which went on sale this past Saturday. When I received the phone call informing me of the event, I had to ask who they are. I was told that the demographic for the show was teens aged 13-17, and that they were currently one of the largest acts in this genre. A quick Google search turned up their home page, and I checked their summer tour dates. “Amphitheater” was a common word in the venues they would be playing, and once I saw Madison Square Garden listed, I knew this would indeed be popular. Before the event had even been announced officially, I started to receive emails and phone calls inquiring about the event. Another sign that this would be big.
So I began doing all of the things that need to be done when setting up an event. The main twist with this one was that there would be a thrust stage extension that cut straight through the audience, leading to a “mini-stage” right in the middle of the Gold Section. We’ve had similar set ups before, but for popular country shows, not a teen event. It was decided that standing room towards the front would not work quite as well for this audience, so the event coordinator at the fairgrounds sat down with me and we carved out which seats would be sold, and which would be held back to make room for the stage.
Tickets went on sale when we opened at 11 am. I arrived at the Box Office approximately an hour before that, and immediately headed to the front doors to see what size line we had, and to let people into the lobby and out of the cold. As soon as people saw me coming towards the door, they let out a large cheer. The mood was definitely festive. I unlocked the front door and asked the woman who was first in line what time she had arrived. “6:30 last night!” I told her she should be a candidate for parent of the year! I unlocked the doors and asked people to line up at the window and to circle around the kiosk in the center of the lobby. I peered at the street outside and saw lawn chairs, thermoses, and vans full of people parked at the meters lining the sidewalk. In less than a minute the entire lobby was packed. I took a moment to run through some of the information regarding the event (ticket limits, the stage set up, etc.), fielded questions, and headed to my office.
Our website was slow, which is not uncommon when hundreds of people at the same moment attempt to purchase the best seats in the venue. We had our IT staff on site, and we noticed that we were being bombarded by large requests from a few specific locations outside our state. Automated programs were trying to secure seats that would eventually end up on secondary sales sites. And at the rate they were doing it, our systems slowed. We kept up with the orders as best as we could, and did our best to block any automated programs from obtaining seats. At noon, I noticed systems started improving almost instantly. My presumption is that the automated ticket programs had been programmed to hit our site hard for exactly one hour, and when they stopped, normal traffic had an easier time getting through. We continued filling orders through the afternoon. The first sign that the majority of the rush has passed is when we received our first non-Jonas Brothers ticket order. We breathed a collective sigh of relief in the Box Office—we had staff from multiple departments alter their schedules to pitch in and make the day a success, despite the incredible demand! It was an excellent example of team work, and made me proud of my staff and coworkers.
Even though there is still snow and ice on the ground, summer isn’t as far away as it seems. Tickets purchased in advance of the show date include free gate admission to the fair, a $10 value. Don’t miss out on the other shows coming to the fairgrounds this summer! See you there!
photograph of the Flynn ticket window by Steve Mease