Doug Miller inducted into Washington
Festivals & Events Hall of Fame
The Washington Festivals & Events Association (WFEA) presents the Hall of Fame Award only when a nomination truly merits the honor. For the first time in three years, WFEA presented this award to recognize and honor Doug Miller’s vision, enthusiasm and leadership in the special events industry. Miller has devoted over 20 years of his life to the production of community festivals and events, and he has earned a distinguished reputation among event professionals from coast-to-coast.
Miller has been instrumental in the successful production of many of the most significant festivals and events in Western Washington. His mantra, “We are in the memory making business,” has inspired event volunteers to reach objectives that at the time seemed impossible to attain. He has held a long list of titles over the years to go along with the work that came with them, including treasurer, vice-chair, chairman of the board, president & CEO, and executive director of the Tacoma Events Commission, the non-profit organization that has overseen the production of the Tacoma Freedom Fair and Air Show for two decades, and the successful creation and presentation of the Tall Ships Tacoma 2005 festival.
His leadership helped bring great honors to the city of Tacoma in 2005 along with nearly one million visitors and millions of tourism dollars. The American Sail Training Association (ASTA) named the Tall Ships Tacoma festival the “2005 Port of the Year,” as voted by all the vessel captains and crewmembers who participated in the Pacific Tall Ships Challenge. Winning the Port of the Year award was a goal Doug set in 2003, when the process began to create and host Tacoma’s first Tall Ships Festival. It was a massive undertaking that required expanding the board of directors, recruiting about 3,000 volunteers, making over $1,000,000 worth of capital improvements on the Tacoma waterfront, generating a million dollar advertising campaign, and raising millions more in community support. All this had to be done in conjunction with the development and presentation of the annual 4th of July Freedom Fair, which was presented as the grand finalé to the spectacular Tall Ships Tacoma Festival.
More recently, the City of Tacoma honored the many people who worked so hard to put on the Tall Ships Tacoma festival with a special “City of Destiny” award, which will be presented during a special ceremony on May 23rd at Jason Lee Middle School.
Besides his Hall of Fame Award, Miller and members of the Tacoma Events Commission executive committee returned from the Northwest Festivals & Events conference in Oregon with nine WFEA Summit Awards for both Tall Ships and Freedom Fair 2005. The Summit Awards is a competition among Washington’s festival and event producers, and recognizes those in the industry who are continually improving the quality and image of festivals and special events in the eyes of the community and media.
Gary Grape, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tacoma Events Commission, stated: “Without Doug Miller, the heart of our events would simply disappear. He has encouraged and trained a strong board of directors who can handle the mechanics of this important event, but he also is a force that earned international recognition for our community. It would take a dozen people to replicate the knowledge, experience, drive, enthusiasm and commitment that Doug Miller personifies. The Washington Festivals and Events Association has made a great addition to the Hall of Fame.”
As owner of Impression Productions, a festival and event production company, Doug Miller is a key figure in the Tacoma and the Puget Sound region in all matters pertaining to festival and events.
Doug Miller is highly regarded throughout the State of Washington. As a member of the County Arts Commission, he supported the development of Ethnic Fest and helped create First Night Pierce County, making it the first and only First Night festival in the State of Washington. A few years later he was selected to serve as executive producer of First Night 1997 and under his leadership the event grew to include 200 performances and art-making activities in fifty venues located in four communities simultaneously! The event drew the highest attendance and returned a profit to the Arts Commission that helped fund community art programs and events the following year; an accomplishment that has never been duplicated by any other producer.
Miller also managed and directed the production of Capital Lakefair in Olympia, the Fife Festival, Commencement Bay Maritime Festival, the Des Moines Waterland Festival near Seattle, the Capital Food and Wine Festival in Lacey, and the grand opening extravaganza for the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center. He served several years as executive director of the Nisqually Land Trust and coordinated their fundraising events, and supported bringing the Great Race to Tacoma and making Tacoma the critical finish point for the Great Race from Washington DC to Tacoma in 2005. Doug is also co-founder of the Tacoma Jazz & Blues Festival and is developing the first Tacoma Daffodil Festival to help support the 73rd annual Daffodil Parade in downtown Tacoma!
The importance of the Tacoma based events to the “Renaissance” Tacoma has enjoyed over the last decade cannot be overlooked. Tacoma’s reputation has gone from “rough and uncultured” to being a cultural oasis in the region, and a great deal of the credit goes to the sense of community that has grown because of the family-based activities provided by Doug Miller and his associates.
Doug has served our community in a variety of capacities: event producer, business owner, president of the Board of Park Commissioners, Tacoma City Councilman; vice-president of the Association of Washington Cities, executive board member of the Puget Sound Regional Council, chair of the Zoo Authority, Transit Board, and member of the International Council of Air Shows, International Festivals & Events Association, Washington Festival and Events Association, and over a dozen other positions of responsibility. The crown jewel of his achievements both personal and for Tacoma continues to be the Tacoma Freedom Fair & Air Show. Every year, more than 200,000 people crowd a narrow strip of land running the 3-mile length of waterfront. They enjoy an international food festival, a dizzying array of art and craft vendors, musical entertainment on multiple stages throughout the day, carnival rides, the worlds longest running beach pole vault championship series, water sports events, children’s activities, a world-class air show, and internationally recognized fireworks display. In fact the Tacoma Freedom Fair has been named one of the ten “Worlds Best” fireworks events by the Travel Channel, and received like recognition by CNN, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today! More importantly, it is a tradition that residents and tourists embrace and cherish. Doug Miller has clearly left his mark on each detail of this festival.
Doug is a hands-on manager who knows and understands every detail of every event he is involved with. He personally oversees the development of the sponsorship and marketing program for the events. He makes it his business to know the entertainers and is familiar with most if not all of the event vendors. He takes great care to protect the reputation of the event and treats every vendor like his most important customer. Doug also develops a personal relationship with the businesses that are affected by special events and has a way of getting them to be generous supporters and make them a part of the festival. He works closely with representatives from the city, county, state, and federal government to coordinate their support. Doug manages the day-to-day activities of the Tacoma Events Commission organization while gracefully coordinating the activities and personalities of the members of the board of directors.
Doug’s passion not only for Freedom Fair, but also the Tacoma/Pierce County community, is infectious. He quickly converts even the most cynical opponent with his enthusiasm for “good, old-fashioned family fun.”
Not content to be a “behind the scenes” manager, Doug is on the event grounds early as the set-up begins. His typical event day begins before the sun rises, and he won’t leave the scene for another 20-hours until the last volunteer goes home. After little more than a three-hour break for sleep you will find him back at the festival site picking up litter, making sure everything is going well. No matter how big or small a concern, Doug addresses it conscientiously. He is available to everyone festival volunteer, board member, community representatives or festival attendee, 18-hours a day, seven days a week! His primary goal is to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience.
In twenty years of dedicated service, Doug Miller has helped numerous events grown from a small, neighborhood celebrations, to the most respected events of their kind that now attract the attention and attendance from all over the world! The vision and leadership Doug Miller provides continues to steer participants on to greater achievements.
Doug understands the importance of community festivals and events. He is constantly searching for ways to make them fresh and even more entertaining. His expertise as a festival promoter is second to none, and he encourages those who work with him to continually grow and learn more. He has put together a cohesive (all-volunteer) management team, some with no previous festival or event experience, and guided them to a high level of achievement. His ability to get the best effort from each volunteer contributes to the strength of the entire team, and ensures enjoyment at all levels from volunteer worker to local families who attend the festival to guests from all over the world who say Freedom Fair is “one of the best!” Doug councils and supports other festival organizers to improve or create events. He has set a new standard in the festival and events industry, and stands ready to help others exceed that standard.
During his career in the festival and events industry, Doug has generated over $20,000,000 in cash, goods and services to fund community events that have been presented free of charge to over 5,000,000 people. That’s a lot of memories!