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, this person was interested and willing to assist us in coordinating and promoting our events. And, he understood budget limitations …. So ….60 days out from opening day we finally had a partner and someone we knew would deliver!
During that 60 day period, many emails and phone calls occurred. We waived food concession revenue to get some food trucks in for the two days. We had 3 food trucks for each day which featured food from the asian continent. Fortunately, all 3 of the food trucks had been at our fairgrounds for a year round event so they already were familiar with our grounds and what it took to sell food to the public ie health dept permits, power, water and sewer needs, and an idea of crowd capacity. We told them to plan on 500 people each day to give them some idea of the crowd and their potential sales.
Our event promoter spent a great deal of time coordinating the various groups who would be performing. Our Fair team assisted in collecting information from the groups including their performance liability waivers, distribution of admission and parking tickets and helping them get in and get out of the fairgrounds on the two days.
Most all of the entertainers made it onto the fairgrounds, however, the belly dancer had a sword as part of her performance and she was concerned that security would not let her through the metal detectors…..so we helped her get through that process securely.
We had scheduled the stage for programming from 12 noon – 6 pm. We open the Fair at 11 am. We allowed 1 hour for fairgoers to get in and reach the stage in time for the entertainment to begin. The first day the entertainment started a bit late, and the second day it started closer to 12 noon.
Both of these events were held on Sundays to increase attendance on Sunday. We had some amazing performances and activities. On the Asian Pacific Celebration day, we had performances from all the asian countries with the exception of two countries and one of those two countries was represented via the food truck (Vietnam). During the Bollywood at the Fair some of the fair patrons were invited on stage to take part in the dancing. There was also MC’s for both days to explain and teach about the different activities going on. This made a big difference
Overall, we do believe we had an increase in the demographics that we wanted to reach: asian american and indian american.
Our rough estimates are that 1000 people attended each event, however, our fair team observed many others attending the fair throughout the two weekends
We are so pleased with the results that we will continue these two events for 2020. We are meeting with the event promoter soon to discuss 2020!
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 help us book entertainment and make introductions to some food vendors. We’ve provided him with a budget and we will see what he comes up with.
We also have a second demographic, asian americans, that we are creating a separate festival for. We have chosen to call this event the “Asian Pacific American” festival. This event is moving slower than we want as well. The media partners we have reached out to haven’t been as receptive to our planned festival as we had hoped. It seems that these media outlets are more focused on us paying them a huge fee to produce an event in addition to our buying media time on their radio/tv stations. And how does that make us a partner??????? Anyway our team has decided to go a different route in producing this event as well. We have a team member with some connections to the entertainment groups we seek, and we also have a couple community groups from the asian pacific community who have performed at the fair in the past. We are reaching out to them to invite them to perform on the day of our Asian Pacific American festival.
So, with 2 months until opening day, where do we go from here on promoting these new 2 events? Well….we aren’t cancelling them …..sooooooooo …… As I tell my team, for every new program, we need to take a 3 year approach. What does that mean? Well, any new program you create needs 3 years to determine it’s success rate. The first year you create the event/program. Year 2 you tweak it, and by the end of Year 3 you decide to keep it or dump it!
Meanwhile, how do we provide our marketing team with information, photos, schedules, etc to promote these new events? As fast as we can get it to them…. Photo by photo, bio by bio, and the schedule as we finalize it with each event. It’s not pretty, and it’s not perfect, We can only provide them what we can guarantee will be there!
Stay tuned – I’ll give one more update before Fair…and then will give you an update after Fair on how it all worked out.
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 our Fair Staff working on the festival, our media buyers, someone from our marketing team and, of course, the radio station team. This Indian American media outlet is relatively new to our area, however, they reported that there are over 500,000 South Asians in our market which validated our choice of this demographic. We explained our concept and received great feedback and a high level of interest in participating. They have been asked to provide some ideas for local entertainment, food, retail vendors and contests.
The second meeting was with a Chinese American media outlet that owns Chinese radio and TV stations. This meeting didn’t produce the same results. We received a proposal to do a two day event which was a duplicate of an existing event we currently have on site during the non-fair period that is produced by an outside promoter. After explaining that we were not interested in duplicating a non-fairtime event, we asked for a proposal for assisting us in producing a 6 hour event.
Moving forward, our media buyers set up a one day 6 hour whirlwind day of meeting with 5 of our existing media partners. From 9 am – 3 pm we met and shared with them our plans for the current year: what was new and different, what was eliminated and what was being brought back. All of the meetings were very productive, educational and fun! The media partners have worked with our team for many years, and it’s like old home week when we all get together. We learned what the radio and TV stations were are working on, what their demographics like and want, and we also reviewed any challenges we had in the prior year. Overall the daylong meetings were very productive!
In case you are wondering, the Fair provides tickets to the media for fair admission, concerts, meet and greets, rodeo, monster truck, demolition derby, tasting events (wine, beer, craft cocktail), horse racing, and anything else we can offer to them when we do a ticketed event. The Fair purchases advertising on the radio and TV. The media partners then work with us to provide their on air personalities a chance to talk up the Fair during their time on the air. We sometimes hire their on-air personalities to come to the Fair and judge, emcee, participate in our cattle drive, or do a live remote at the Fair.
Each of the media partners expressed a high level of interest in our cultural events and festivals we are producing. An extremely valuable connection was made after we reviewed our two new events because these are the same demographics one media partner is reaching out to.
After the day long marathon of media meetings, our staff met briefly with our media buyers. We received an update on the proposal they had gotten from the Chinese media group – it was for $28,000! It was higher than the total for all 4 events we are producing. So, back to the drawing board on that one. Our media buyers will reach out to the Chinese media group, explain our needs, and ask for a revised proposal. We also all agreed it was time to come up with Plan B for this event!
The day after the day long media meetings, I received a call from one of the media partners about our Chinese American event. She and I had a long conversation about that particular demographic. She shared with me that one of her big advertisers may be interested in sponsoring our event. We talked about our name of the event, Chinese Cultural Celebration, and she shared how in our region the term ‘Asian Pacific American’ or “APA” was used for similar events. The light bulb went off in my head because none of our team had really liked the name of Chinese Cultural Celebration. She also shared how the term “APA” included a larger demographic: chinese, taiwanese, japanese, and filipino. Wow! Another light bulb! Our team was struggling to identify multiple chinese partners, and now, we could open our search to include these other groups, which, by the way ranked high in attending our Fair based on our Fairs survey. As I shared this information with our team the following day, they too were excited.
So now, we wait. All of the media partners are compiling their proposals. We’ve authorized Univision to reach out to the entertainers they brought to us last year and book them for this year. Our team will review our notes from the meeting, make some changes to what we offer the media partners, and work on radio, TV and print ads and other marketing collateral needed for these partnerships to move forward.