Case Study: Tolar and Winter Lightfest – Illuminating the Big Country with Connectivity

In 2019, Lone Star Electric and United Way of Abilene started Winter Lightfest, a local event intended to bring joy and holiday cheer to the Big Country. The event is important because all the money raised goes directly back to the community. Winter Lightfest has become a cherished tradition, attracting families, friends, and couples looking for a magical atmosphere to share special moments. It has been an ongoing project, growing every year, and with the help of Tolar, it has grown digitally and expanded more efficiently.

The Challenge:

According to Katie Deal at United Way, the organization utilized T-Mobile hotspots during the first few years. The use of the hotspots presented a challenge as they were unreliable, and when patrons would fill the park, the hotspots would crash, leaving United Way without options and a network. The organization worked through it, but there was no way to know for sure if credit card transactions were going through on their point-of-sale systems. United Way and Lone Star Electric were at a loss and desperately needed a new solution. The network challenge became increasingly more difficult when they realized that until last year (2023), there wasn’t an option to provide fiber internet at the event site unless they wanted to run fiber underground, costing more money than they had in their budgets to spend.

Tolar’s Involvement:

With our commitment to community support, Tolar became a dedicated partner for Winter Lightfest, providing essential internet services and ensuring seamless communication through POS systems. The company’s involvement has been instrumental in creating a connected and technologically enriched experience for both organizers and attendees. Lance Tolar (CEO) wanted to find a way to become involved in this community event and provide an alternative to dedicated fiber for United Way. The Tolar team eventually found an affordable, scalable, portable solution, allowing us to leverage our wireless expertise. Tolar provided the Winter Lightfest team with two-way radios for all volunteers to complete the solution. Eliminating the need for hotspots and troubleshooting the fiber internet challenge has completely changed the game for Winter Lightfest. Tolar’s scalable infrastructure allowed for seamless network expansion to meet the growing demands of Winter Lightfest, ensuring no compromise on performance.

The Tolar team is dedicated to excellence and efficiency, providing support whenever support is needed and staying available throughout the run of the event. Our team members have thoroughly enjoyed the event themselves over the years and continue to bring their families and friends to the event, spreading the word and inviting the community. Tolar has remained ready and available every year as the event has grown, and as we do with all of our clients, partners, and prospective clients, we are prepared and excited to grow along with it.

2023’s Event:

Winter Lightfest has become a beloved community event, known for its enchanting walk-through display of lights. Throughout the years, the event has changed and upgraded quite a bit. The event has scaled and grown from hotspots to full connectivity, making it a big hit in the Big Country and beyond. Many people travel to attend Winter Lightfest because of its charm and festive décor. In 2023, the event featured adult beverages catered by KAO Lounge in Abilene, fake snow, Santa, and more. The event was extended to include the weekend after Christmas and before the new year as well. After sixteen successful and joy-filled weekends, Winter Lightfest had over 46,000 visitors walk through the park. This event continues to grow and improve, spreading happiness and Christmas spirit to the Big Country and beyond.

Tolar and United Way have partnered in several ways throughout the last few years, but Winter Lightfest has been the most fun and impactful. “Truly, with the way that this event has grown and blown up, I don’t know what we would do without….Lance and him having his team to support us out there, it would be another level of stress for all of us,” Katie Deal said. The seamless connectivity contributes to the overall experience for Winter Lightfest attendees, allowing them to share their magical moments on social media, engage in online transactions, and stay connected with the event in real time. Tolar is honored to support this event and give back to the local community during the holiday season.

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