A mobile-friendly Scarecrow Fest website will enable cellphone users to access information about the 2012 St. Charles Scarecrow Fest, a move officials of the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes will avoid the website crash experienced on the opening day of last year’s event.
Amy Egolf, executive director of the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a press release that her team had several hours of frantic phone calls to multiple website resources last year after the bureau learned via a Facebook message about 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, that www.scarecrowfest.com had crashed.
The Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau is responsible for producing the popular annual festival.
“At the time, we didn’t think about why the crash happened, as our immediate need was to make certain the site became operational as quickly as possible to get information about the festival to our visitors,” Egolf said.
The bureau’s quick fix, made at midnight of Oct. 7, was to add temporarily to the site’s bandwidth, which increased the traditional monthly $9 bandwidth charge to $153 — a 1,696 percent increase.
“At the time, we knew the crash was due to extremely high usage,” Egolf said, “but it wasn’t until the festival was over that we learned the usage causing the crash was from 10,000 mobile users. The main site is graphic- and data-intensive, so all those visitors downloading to their smartphones was too much for the system to handle. That information made it clear that creation of a mobile site was essential.”
The launch of scarecrowfest.com mobile site, completed over the weekend, should reduce the hits to the main scarecrowfest.com site, the release states. In addition to helping reduce web traffic, it has been designed with global positioning system locations to guide attendees to free remote parking lots on the East Side of St. Charles at Charlestowne Mall and on the West Side of town at Thompson and Haines Middles Schools and the District 303 Administration Building.
“We’re hoping the mobile site will aid us in reducing the vehicular traffic in the heart of downtown, enhancing the experience of the tens of thousands of visitors expected to attend the annual autumn event.” Egolf said.
The event is a significant component to the bureau’s mission to promote the Greater St. Charles area — the city of St. Charles, the villages of Campton Hills and Elburn, and Campton and St. Charles townships — as a tourism destination.
On-site intercept surveys completed in 2011 identified attendees from 142 Illinois communities and 16 states, with 44 percent of the visitors attending the festival for the first time, the release states.
“The mobile site is going to enhance our ability to get detailed information to repeat and first time festival attendees,” Egolf said.
The Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau is funded by the Illinois Office of Tourism and a portion of the hotel/motel tax collected by St. Charles hotels.
Updated information on the Oct 5-7 Scarecrow Festival can be accessed via scarecrowfest.com. Scarecrow contest applications can be picked up at the 1st Street Visitor Info Centers, downloaded from scarecrowfest.com, and by calling the SCCVB at 630-377-6161.