By Suet Lee-Growney, Fort Riley Public AffairsSeptember 8, 2017
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Taylor Ferrarin, the architect behind the largest concert of the decade held at Fort Riley, Victory Fest 2017, where more than 4,500 attended, is a recreation specialist with the special events team at Fort Riley Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. But Victory Fest 2017 isn't the only thing she's had her hand in.
Ferrarin graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in recreation management. She has been with Fort Riley DFMWR for almost three years and had brief stint with Fort Huachuca, Arizona, Child and Youth Services in sports and fitness prior to relocating here.
Although Ferrarin went to school for planning, organizing and administering recreation and sporting events, doing so for the military community was not something she wanted to pursue out of the blue. She decided it was the right fit for her only after doing a college internship with the Coast Guard MWR program in Miami.
"After I did that experience, I was like, 'man, this is absolutely what I want to do for the rest of my life -- this is so awesome,'" she said. "Now I'm here and I'm still loving it."
Community programs such as the Christkindl Market and Fall Apple Day Festival are a couple of event examples Ferrarin organizes, but her favorite event thus far was in July 2015. It was an evening where Soldiers and families got to do all sorts of outdoor activities from hiking to fishing, and several tactile activities for children such as crafts, yard games and kite flying.
"I think the coolest program that we have done, since I've been here, was the Night at Moon Lake," Ferrarin said. "It was a really fun event and it was something we hadn't done before … That night we showed 'A Bug's Life' -- that was an awesome throwback to watch that."
Executing large and successful events does not come without challenges, a feat Ferrarin is not a stranger to. The recent Victory Fest concert was perhaps the most demanding project ever landed on Ferrarin's lap, according to Dori Farrow, chief, administration and operations, DFMWR.
"She was very stressed, but she did it," Farrow said. "She had a lot of challenges. She really had to find people to work the concert, assign people certain jobs -- it was just really very challenging for her. I really admire the way that she stepped up to the plate and took on the challenge, and I know she learned an awful lot."
The hardest part of Victory Fest for Ferrarin was having to collaborate and stay on top of many moving parts of the planning process.
"I definitely learned a lot with Victory Fest because we don't typically work so many different units for an event," she said. "So coordinating with all these different Soldiers, and figuring all that out, and all the directorates in the garrison, it was definitely challenging, but I know a lot more than I did before."
Despite being faced with obstacles during the progress of Victory Fest, Farrow said Ferrarin overcame them with professionalism.
"The couple of times I've seen, she was within breaking point, but she remained calm most of the time -- very quiet," Farrow said. "You know, how some people do, they just kind of freak out when they get stressed out. (Ferrarin) was always cool, calm and collected … I just felt fortunate that she took on this challenge and she succeeded."
And at the end of Victory Fest, Ferrarin was satisfied with the help and hard work everyone contributed to make her brainchild a success.
"It was amazing," Ferrarin said. "That was amazing to see all the hard work you've put into something like that, and all the coordination, and all the people from the garrison that put in all the hard work getting to see people enjoy that event was just amazing."
That positive and grateful outlook is what drives Ferrarin tirelessly to keep putting on events for the Army community. She finds inspiration in seeing people enjoy themselves.
"My favorite part of the job is the joy that the Soldiers and family members get (from) what we do," she said. "When you see that what you've spent your time doing has had a positive effect on somebody, it's just an amazing feeling."
It was difficult to get Ferrarin to speak about her accomplishments because she does not like talking about herself.
"I hate talking about myself so much," Ferrarin said as she tried to shy away from personal questions. Farrow, who has gotten close to Ferrarin since the two started working in the same building together a year ago, said she is humble and kind.
"She's probably one the nicest people ever," Farrow said. "She's quiet -- very, very quiet -- and takes her job seriously … If somebody needed help, she's there. Even though she's got a full plate, somehow she manages and does it with a smile on her face."
Professionally, Farrow said Ferrarin is a dedicated employee. It was a 17-hour workday for most staff and volunteers at the Victory Fest, but Ferrarin was working for more than 20 hours that day.
"Personally, I think that MWR is very lucky to have her -- how she's really stepped up to the challenge with the Victory Fest," Farrow said. "Because nobody knows what it's like to put on a concert, we'd never had a big concert like this ever on Fort Riley. So this is the biggest one that we had ever done. And for her to take on this challenge, it's pretty amazing. All the little details, it was just so overwhelming."
Ferrarin doesn't let her age or her shyness restrict her from future aspirations. She sees herself as a special events coordinator.
"I'd like to get out and do different aspects of recreation and go to maybe different installations," Ferrarin said. "Maybe outside of the country."
However, currently Ferrarin -- a Phoenix native -- is content in her life here in Kansas.
"I do like Fort Riley … everybody in Kansas is so nice, that's definitely a big part of it," she said. "I can't say I'm a fan of the weather. I think there's a lot to do if you're willing to look for things to do. It's a fun place."