Meet Jeff Vetting, an event producer who next week begins turning T-Mobile Park into, well, something North Pole-esque as he oversees and coordinates the installation of Enchant Christmas. In the past, he’s been an events manager at KEXP, executive director of the first Upstream Music Festival, and produced two years of the electronic dance music extravaganza Paradiso Festival at the Gorge.
Here, he talks about his work.
What do you do? I am the city manager for Enchant Christmas. This means I’m part of a creative production team that brings to life a one-of-a-kind experience inside T-Mobile Park — the “World’s Largest Christmas Light Maze and Market.”
How did you get started in this field? I always wanted to be a part of the music industry, but it was apparent at a very early age that I wan’t going to make it with my musical skills. I found out that I had a good temperament for putting a concert together, and started working on the production and booking side of the business. Throughout the years, I’ve tried to do a lot of different types of events to become a well-rounded event producer. I mostly specialize in stadium events and festivals, and I love the challenge of putting on a new show and making it special.
What qualities does it take to pull off overseeing a big event? The most important quality is a calm demeanor. You have to keep an even keel at all times, never let the crews working on the show see you stressed out. There are going to be hundreds of challenges that arise, and you need to be able to keep your cool and make quick, confident decisions.
What’s a typical day like? On a show day, I am always moving. Checking and rechecking that everything is on schedule and will be ready to make the best experience for the guests. The rest of the year, I am planning. The preparation time is crucial: Pulling off a show as large and detailed as Enchant takes a dedicated team working year-round.
What’s going to be different with Enchant this year? Almost everything! We produce original storybooks that drive the physical maze experience seen at T-Mobile Park. The maze being produced in Seattle this year is based on the story titled “Mischievous” — and it has never been seen before. We took to heart the incredible feedback from our guests last year and spent months retooling the experience to implement those ideas. Guests are going to see more thought put into the logistics, guest flow, the Christmas Market — which has been curated in partnership with Urban Craft Uprising — the food, in-event activities and much more.
What’s the best part of the job? There’s a feeling right before you open the doors that is hard to describe. It’s an equal feeling of accomplishment, because you’ve thought of everything, and anticipation, because you know that there are going to be challenges that arise that you haven’t thought about. It’s an adrenaline rush that keeps you putting in the long hours. I also really like to see people having a good time at one of my shows. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing your work become something tangible that people enjoy.
What surprises people about what you do? A lot of people are surprised that this is a real job! Seriously, though, most people have trouble wrapping their heads around the idea that you can work a whole year on just one show. There is a lot more planning that goes into setting yourself up for success on-site than people realize.