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

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

12 Simple Easy Low Cost Ideas For Creating Interactive Agriculture Exhibits and Activities

This book contains 12 examples of how to create low cost, simple, and easy interactive displays. From simple photo ops to using hashtags to promote your fair on social media, each of these ideas is very easy to create without a large expense. This book can be used as a workbook. Following each example is a “Notes” page. Make sure to jot down any ideas you have on how you can incorporate a similar idea at your own event. Don’t try to do too many of these at once. Start with one idea, and then change it up the next year. The following year, add in another activity. Pretty soon, you’ll have multiple activities! Buy My... read more

6 Tips for Running A Productive Meeting

Meetings are a necessary evil of any business, but they can easily suck away everyone’s valuable time. With a few careful choices in meeting planning, a savvy leader can ensure everyone gets the information they need, without wasting the day. #1: Schedule only what you need. Rather than the usual thirty minute or hour block, go with 15 minutes, or even less. Meetings expand to fill their allotted time. #2: Don’t sit down. Getting comfortable around the conference table invites everyone to accept a longer meeting. Stand or walk, and you’ll get the meeting done on time. #3: Sound the alarm. Visibly set a timer, and everyone will be more likely to keep on-task and on- When the alarm signals the end of the meeting, that’s it. The meeting is over. #4: Expect readiness. Send out a reminder email the day before the meeting. Ask everyone to bring their fully-formed thoughts about the subject at hand. Everyone should come prepared with their thoughts and convey them succinctly. #5: Form an action plan. Meetings should help everyone figure something out and create a plan going forward that swings into action as soon as the meeting is over. Make it clear who will do what and when it will be complete. #6: Follow up. Check in on the action points soon after they are due. Don’t hold another meeting for this – simply handle it by spending a few minutes with each person to find out where they are on the tasks. Update others via email. Streamlined gatherings mean everyone will walk away with the information they need but no one... read more

4 Reasons You Should Attend A Fair Industry Convention

Convention season has arrived!  Whether it is a Regional, State, National or International convention – it is a great opportunity to meet and network with other professionals in the Fair Industry. Many times the decision to attend a convention or conference is based on “costs” … registration, travel, lodging, meals, etc. In reality, the decision should be made on content, networking opportunities, trade show expo vendors, and learning about industry trends. So, how do you justify being away from the day to day operations of the fairgrounds to attend a convention? Follow along and you’ll have all the right reasons and maybe even decide to take some Fair Staff with you! Reason #1 – Program Content of the Event Convention Organizers spend hours, yes hours and many months, identifying which topics/speakers to present. It is their goal to make sure that your registration fee justifies the expense for your time away from the office, travel expenses and possibly closing your office in your absence, and maybe bringing other staff members to the convention, in order to attend their convention. Reason #2 – Networking Conventions offer a wide range of networking opportunities during sessions, meals, social functions. If you attend a convention and come away without meeting new people, then you aren’t really networking – you’re just visiting with friends which isn’t bad…..it’s just not the only reason to attend a convention. Networking allows you to learn about new acts, exhibits, funds, etc. In many instances, you’ll find someone who is or has experienced the exact same issue you are dealing with right now. Reason #3 – Trade Show Expo... read more

6 Financial Reports You Need To Review Monthly And Why

There are 6 reports every Fair CEO should be reviewing monthly. These reports are: Income and Expense Statement Balance Sheet Cash Flow Report for the current period Cash Flow Projection for next 6 months and past 6 months actual cash flow Accounts Receiveables Accounts Payables   Income and Expense Statement  The income and expense statement gives you an overview of the previous months financial activity in detail especially when reviewed along with the check register. There are many examples of income and expense statements available. Each Fair should have an overview income and expense statement for the overall organization, and then one for each revenue center: Fairtime, Year Round Events, RV Camping, etc. that then is rolled up into the overall organization’s statement. In addition, it’s important to review the check register monthly. Look for abnormality’s, ie missing and voided checks, large purchases, purchases to unknown sources. The check register should identify the payee, as well as brief description of what the item purchased was. For example, Payee ABC Hardware and description: exhibit hall remodel.   Balance Sheet The Balance Sheet will provide a snapshot of the Fair’s financial position at one specific moment. This document lists all of the assets and liabilities of the Fair. If you acquired assets make sure that they are added to your balance sheet. When you dispose of assets, they are to be removed from the balance sheet. If you have changes from month to month, can you account for the difference? If not, dig into your financials and find out what happened.   Cash Flow Report For Current Period The Cash Flow... read more

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