Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to debate on community engagement and participation in local community festivals and events by empirically analysing the factors which either inhibit or facilitate engagement. The application of the motivation-opportunity-ability (MOA) model to the analysis of community festivals is an important contribution. Design/methodology/approach – Recognising the complexity associated with community participation in festivals produced a set of four research questions which are addressed via a mixed methodology research design. The model was then tested using four key data collection methods including the interviews and the questionnaires analysed within this paper. Findings – The MOA model can be seen as an appropriate framework with which to analyse community engagement in a local community festival setting, in the case of “The Utcazene-Fesztival”, a Street Music Festival in Veszprém, Hungary. Community participation is often interpreted quite simply as a way of involving local people in community planning and development. However, within the realm of community festivals and events the reality reveals a multitude of stakeholder webs and interconnected decision-making processes within a multi-faceted phenomenon. The paper reflects on the value of the MOA model to guide analysis within event studies and further considers the methodological challenges that the study brings to events studies. Research limitations/implications – This paper presents two key data sets as part of a broader study of the MOA model. Due to size restrictions only the primary data derived through qualitative interviews and quantitative questionnaires are analysed here. Originality/value – Currently there is limited understanding, agreement and research within community engagement remains an increasingly important area of academic enquiry. This particular paper explores the central concepts of inclusivity and engagement which can be considered as fundamental to the creation of successful community festivals and events. The paper begins by defining community festivals and events; it builds on Jepson and Clarke’s (2012) work on developing inclusive community festivals and events through inclusive participation within the planning and decision making process.