In 2019, Julien Godbarge, President & CEO of Rileighs Outdoor Decor and ArtsQuest President & CEO, Kassie Hilgert got together over coffee in the beautiful, historic downtown of Bethlehem, Pa. The leaders of two, long-standing and reputable Lehigh Valley based organizations shared their knowledge, experience and aspirations. Kassie explained how ArtsQuest was created to help the Bethlehem community recover from the closure of Bethlehem Steel back in the early ‘90s. Julien shared how, since the beginning of ArtsQuest’s revitalization efforts, Rileighs has been fortunate to be a trusted partner in the success of numerous ArtsQuest festivals and events – providing many of the decorations, flags and banners millions of visitors get to see each year when they come into town.
It was obvious that both of our organizations had a long history working together towards the same vision and goals.
- Kassie Hilgert
According to Kassie, “It was obvious that both of our organizations had a long history working together towards the same vision and goals.” The conversation soon turned towards exploring how Rileighs and ArtsQuest could leverage their strengths and resources to assist other communities throughout the country. When, Kassie shared with Julien the number of calls her office receives each year by other community leaders and concerned citizens that want to learn more about how to do the same in their downtowns, an idea was born. “It became readily apparent that the nationally proclaimed programs and events ArtsQuest successfully manages to deliver each year, are excellent case studies to be shared with others!” said, Julien.
It became readily apparent that the nationally proclaimed programs and events ArtsQuest successfully manages to deliver each year, are excellent case studies to be shared with others!
- Julien Godbarge
Shortly after that meeting, the teams of Rileighs and ArtsQuest reconvened. And, CEFI was formed, the Community Event & Festival Incubator, dedicated to sharing best practices to help develop authentic and sustainable festivals and events geared toward economic development in communities throughout the United States. Julien describes CEFI as a catalyst or tool for regional economic development, a program designed to provide mentorship, expertise and access to real-world case studies, educational programs and industry experts. According to Julien, “CEFI was built upon the three guiding principals of Authenticity, Sustainability and Public / Private Partnership.” Our proprietary, knowledge and networking platform is designed to share best practices through sharing real-world case studies, offering certified training programs and facilitating networking events via our Website, CEFIncubator.org.
CEFI was built upon the three guiding principals of Authenticity, Sustainability and Public / Private Partnership.
- Julien Godbarge