How to Plan, Pay for and Put on a Wildly Successful Fair

 

Without Losing Your Mind, Your Family or Your Friends!

Connecting With our Competitive Exhibitors During Shelter At Home Scenarios

We are in very uncharted and challenging times. Many of our fairgoers and competitive entry exhibitors have been mandated by their local government and/or health department to stay home. Some County/State Fairs, Livestock Shows and Rodeos have been cancelled for the year. Others are in limbo while their year round events have been significantly reduced for the next few weeks.  For those who are moving forward with their Fair Planning activities, our team has identified a way to keep our message about the fair in front of everyone via social media. For those who know me and/or know our Fair and our Fair Team, I can share that TB (if you know her you know who I mean) came up with this idea of the video series and I think it’s great! Have our exhibitors create videos of them preparing to enter their item into the fair.  The concept is to do a video series of some of our exhibitors preparing their item to enter into the Fair. Here are some of the ideas: 1 – Select an exhibitor in canning, quilting, arts/craft etc and have them do a self video of them working on their item. 2 – Find someone who can highlight what fruits/veggies/flowers they should be planting now/near future to be entered into the Fair.  3 – Do a video for ideas for parents to have their kid’s do a craft to enter for the fair. 4 – Do a video for adults to do a craft to enter into the fair 5 – Do a video about learning a new hobby that the result can... read more

Pandemic Preparation for Your Organization or Business

The Covid 19 Coronavirus has officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. With that declaration countries around the world are mobilizing to secure their borders, contain the virus, protect their people and prepare for the worst case scenario.  Fairgrounds and other event facilities are being told to cancel all events for 3-8 weeks – depending on the State. Some Fair’s have already been cancelled by their cities – Houston Livestock Show, Miami Dade Youth Fair, Colorado River Fair are recent examples.  The Centers for Disease Control has created this great checklist for preparing and dealing with a pandemic incident. It is called the Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist. Although it was written for influenza and large businesses, any size fair organization or fair partner can benefit from reviewing and implementing activities listed. Here is the link: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/pdf/businesschecklist.pdf Communication is the most important action your organization can take. Communicate with your Board of Directors, local city/county leaders, employees, event promoters, and your public – what are you doing and what is going on with events.  Fairgrounds have a huge advantage over convention centers, theaters, meeting halls, etc. Fair Staff have been dealing with consumer protection issues for years – primarily preparing and preventing ecoli incidents, educating the public about human/animal interactions. Take all that messaging and protocols – modify for the current pandemic.  Also, reach out to your Industry organizations: Fair Associations, NICA, OABA, etc.. They are communicating with Federal, State and Local officials, politicians, and their own members. If you don’t have a PR department, your industry organizations can provide you with valuable information that you... read more

Final Update On Creating New Events To Increase Attendance

It’s now 90 days after our Fair! I wasn’t able to post before we opened – so many new things going on and I just lost track of time! So here is the final update from our cultural events we created. We had a great Fair! I’ll start out with that. The weather cooperated with most days at 80 degrees and one or two days in the 90 degree level. For those who produce outdoor events you know that weather is the key to success! You can have the best programming, entertainment, and advertising …. And if your event is outdoors and it’s 100 degrees …well, there goes attendance! Fortunately, we had great weather! During the past 90 days since Fair ended, the team has spent hours having discussions on what worked, what needs improvement and what do we never want to do (ie go through) again. Oh yeah … and many of us have been on vacation enjoying some much needed time off! My last post had us in a quagmire! We were unable to find a media partner to assist us in producing our asian continent themed events. As a result, we had reached out to an individual we worked with 6 years ago for our “Spice of India” event which celebrated the cultures of the Asian Continent. He knew us and knew what it would take to move forward. (Note: In case you were wondering why we didn’t go this route in the beginning we had a very small budget and planned for existing staff to take on coordinating each event. Unfortunately that didn’t happen).  Fortunately,... read more

Update on Creating New Events to Increase Attendance

Part 3 Creating Events To Increase Attendance We are 2 months away from opening day. Where have the days gone????? We have finalized the entertainment for the hispanic event, and we continue to work on the Asian Pacific American and the Indian American events. We are challenged working with media from these two cultural groups. It’s definitely not the same as working with Univision! We had one radio station lined up for our Indian American event and they even provided some potential entertainers. I thought “great! We are close to finalizing our entertainment and food for this one”! And then when we reached out to one of the groups the radio station recommended, they wanted $2500 for a 5 minute performance, and then they wanted additional fees to do some on-stage classes. While this group had some high level performers…we are a county fair with a very limited budget so we respectfully said thanks but no to them. I had a conversation with our media buyers about this situation. I learned that they too were surprised to learn that the radio station wasn’t coming through as they presented themselves during our in-person meeting. This radio station will only function as a media outlet – we buy media time and they will do promotions on top of our media buy. It’s so frustrating because they seemed so anxious to work with us overall when we met in person. As a result, we are re-evaluating our entertainment and food options. We have decided to reach out to someone our Fair worked with 6 years ago with ties to this demographic to... read more

Three Steps Every New Fair Manager Needs To Do

So, you’ve been hired to be a Fair CEO! What does that mean exactly? Were you hired to “change things”, “bring agriculture back to the Fair”, “make the Fair more community focused”, or my all time favorite, “make the Fair better”? Do you really know what that means? The bottom line is that everyone who works at any fair wants to do all of the above! So, how do you do that with limited staff, budget, or community support? Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, there is no “Fair Manual” telling us how to create and produce the “best Fair ever”. Fairs may claim to be the “biggest”, the “best”, the “largest”. So how do you evaluate the “best fair”? Well, it depends on whom you ask. Keep in mind—each partner has his or her own interpretation of what a successful fair is. Carnival operators say higher ride revenue. Food vendors say more patrons so they can sell more food. Commercial exhibitors may say $1 admission days so the fairgoers can spend more at our booths. Fair Staff may say higher attendance. The truth is…there is no one answer. They all contribute to a successful Fair! You are in luck! I have written a book that was created to provide a starting point – a beginning conversation for the new (and experienced) Fair CEO who wants to put on a wildly successful Fair. You can purchase a copy of the book here. Exactly what does A wildly successful Fair mean? Does it mean more attendance? More revenue? Fewer incidents? Great weather? More entries? Higher betting revenues? More community... read more

Meeting with Media Partners for Fair Advertising and Promotion Planning

Part 2 – Creating Events for Increasing Fair Attendance One of the Fair’s most valuable partners is the media who will help you spread the message about your fair, entertainment, contests, and everything else going on during the Fair. Regardless of the number of media partners in your market, they provide news and current events to their subscribers/listeners/viewers and you want to make sure your Fair is part of their regular reporting schedule. Our team meets with our media partners about 5 months before the Fair. We discuss new events and activities. We identify ways for their on-air personalities to promote the Fair. We also share what we have added, changed or eliminated. As we create new events for attracting a targeted demographic, the media partners are crucial in insuring the event is well publicized. For example, we have partnered with Univision to promote our hispanic event, Festival Latino. We met with Univision 4 years ago, to learn about their audience demographics and share our interest in creating an event during the Fair that would appeal to their audience. Our partnership is a win-win for Univision and the Fair. The Fair purchases advertising on their radio and tv outlets. Univision arranges for entertainment for our grounds and the Fair pays for the talent through Univision. This year we are adding two events that will attract the Chinese American demographic and the Indian American demographic. We notified our media buyers, who then identified potential media partners for these events and set up meetings to discuss our concepts. The first meeting was with an Indian American radio station. This meeting included... read more

Using Technology for Tracking Projects

I LOVE technology! From personal use to professional use …. there are so many options … how do decide which one to use? First figure out what you need to track and who needs access to that information? If you have any team members that work off-site – you need a cloud based program. I highly suggest you look to cloud based options – any natural disaster can wipe out locally stored files, unless you have a cloud based backup system. And in today’s world, cloud based files are so inexpensive. I rely on 3 programs – all of which are free for the minimum amount of services, or for a slight fee you can use all of their services. They each have their pros/cons …..so make sure to research which one best fit’s your needs. Or you may consider using multiple ones. The top 3 (and free) that I have found most useful are Evernote, Trello and Google Drive. All of these have options for accessing via mobile so you can be anywhere and still access you information. I use Evernote for personal and professional reasons. From tracking my daily, weekly, monthly and annual tasks to having a list of books I want to read or movies I want to see, Evernote is my go to tool for that type of documentation. You can add a Chrome extension of Evernote and then when you find websites, articles, etc online, you can ‘clip’ it to Evernote. The ‘secret sauce’ of Evernote is their ‘tag’ system. You can ‘tag’ notes and then search based on the ‘tag’. Trello is another... read more

Creating Events For Increasing Fair Attendance

How do you increase attendance? Attract new patrons correct? And to attract new patrons, fair management needs to do some research and make some decisions. First, what demographic are you trying to reach? How do you determine which group to focus on?  We have found this information in our survey. By doing a survey at your fair to learn about the current attendees and identifying patterns. If you aren’t collecting demographic information annually or at least every other year you have no data to make good decisions. Your survey must include age (or a range), gender, zip code and ethnicity at a minimum.  We recently discovered a significant increase in our attendance by the asian population using our onsite fair survey. Further research indicated that our community demographic had changed as well. We quickly realized we needed to make some adjustments to our programming to begin the process of attracting the growing asian demographic in our community to the Fair, and, naturally, increasing attendance at our fair. Based on our fair survey from a three year period we chose to focus on the top two growing sub-demographics: chinese americans and indian americans. The next decision was made to create 2 new festivals during the Fair featuring chinese american and indian american entertainment, food, vendors, contests, etc.. We’ve already been doing this in the hispanic market with great success. Over the past 3 Fairs, we have been working with a team from the local Univision TV/Radio media group. The Fair purchases advertising on their TV and Radio outlets and pays for entertainment. Univision helps promote our hispanic event, Festival Latino,... read more

Emergency Planning Resources and Tips

Are you and your team ready to face an emergency evacuation of your Fairgrounds during Fair? And what if something happened during a non-Fairtime event? Have you reviewed your emergency evacuation plan lately? Is it fairtime specific or can it also be used at any time? Do you conduct “emergency scenarios” on a regular basis as a training exercise for your team? Do you know what your emergency plan is? If you have had staff changes, is your emergency/evacuation plan up to date? Do your Board of Directors know what their role is if an emergency was to occur on your fairgrounds? Who is authorized to speak to media during an event? …………. and the list goes on!. These are all very important questions to ask of yourself and your organization.  Take some time to develop an emergency action plan/emergency response plan/…..whatever you choose to call it. Make sure it exists and that your team and Board of Directors know what their roles area during an emergency, and…..practice! You can never practice enough! The public’s expectation when they step onto your fairgrounds is that they will be safe. While no one can predict every type of scenario, make sure your team is prepared to communicate if an emergency were to occur on your fairgrounds. Here are some items to include in your emergency plan: Identify who can initiate the emergency plan. If you have a small team, it may seem obvious who will make the decision, but this should be written down. During your Fair, this decision making responsibility may change to law enforcement. If the situation requires outside... read more
Learn why every Fair and every Fair CEO should be actively participating in industry trade organizations and the benefits those organizations can provide to any Fair.

My upcoming book is a compilation of conversations with 10 Fair Industry professionals. From Fair CEO’s to entertainers, you will gain insight into what works and what doesn’t work. These candid conversations include discussions about entertainment, layout, finances, marketing, and more.

Enjoy these conversations! And start some of your own in your organization!

Learn More about Judy Carrico, Author >>

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