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


Without Losing Your Mind, Your Family or Your Friends!

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

What Makes County Fair’s Unique?

County Fair Definitions: According to Webster: a fair usually held annually at a set location in a county especially to exhibit local agricultural products and livestock. Wikipedia’s definition of Fairs: A fair (archaic: faire or fayre) is a gathering of people for a variety of entertainment or commercial activities. It is normally of the essence of a fair that it is temporary with scheduled times lasting from an afternoon to several weeks. Dictionary.com defines a fair as: noun 1. an exhibition, usually competitive, of farm products, livestock, etc., often combined in the U.S. with entertainment and held annually by a county or state. 2. a periodic gathering of buyers and sellers in an appointed place. 3. an exposition in which different exhibitors participate, sometimes with the purpose of buying or selling: a science fair. 4. an exhibition and sale of articles to raise money, often for some charitable purpose.   Fairs are so much more. A County Fair is a community’s celebration of their accomplishments, a place to reconnect with friends, learn about a new product, be entertained, or just sit and relax. Any event can have food stands, vendors selling products/services, carnival rides, entertainment, and even competitions (who hasn’t heard of the Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island every July 4th?). In reality, many events call themselves “fairs”, however, most lack what makes a county fair unique – and that’s their competitive exhibits. I started my Fair Industry career when I was in 4-H and FFA. I was a member of 4-H for 9 years and FFA for 3 years. I showed some livestock and also participated... read more

SketchUp for Layouts, Floorplans and More

Have you heard of Sketchup.com? It’s a free software you can use for creating floor plans, layouts, exhibits, etc. If you don’t have the budget for a CAD (computer aided design) software program, this is a great alternative with many bells and whistles. You can create 3D layouts as well. Imagine working with your team in designing a new layout for your exhibit building, or providing your team with an exact layout of how the building will look. You can use to distribute to vendors so they will know where their location is. This tool can also be used whenever you would provide a layout to anyone – including those who rent your facilities. You can add in this service for an additional fee, or as an added benefit, to a promoter renting your facilities. Go here to check it out:... read more

3 Ways To Use Grants To Offset Costs

There are hundreds of thousands of grants available to Fairs. Unfortunately many Fairs don’t have the staff available to do the work required to find, apply, and monitor the grants. In those instances, Fairs, of any size, could do three things: 1. Find a local non-profit organization with a similar or complimentary message, purpose, audience. Look for other non-profit organizations in your city/town/region and even in the state. You can do a google search for “non-profits in my area”. Review the list, check and see what their mission/purpose is by visiting their website. If you find they have the same or similar purpose, reach out to their management team. 2. Partner with that organization to apply for grants. As a Fair, and especially if your Fair has it’s own separate non-profit entity, partnering with another organization for that grant will increase the strength of your grant application. The non-profit will have it’s own target audience, and added to your Fair’s attendance, the reach of your program is significantly increased. 3. The non-profit organization may have a grant writer on staff/under contract. Offer to pay a portion of their salary for the grant application. For Fairs, staffing is always a challenge for any project. Partnering with another non-profit that has a staff member responsible for grant applications is a great way for a Fair to tap into a highly qualified resource without incurring the entire salary. The Fair could pay the non-profit a portion of their employees salary, make a donation to the non-profit for the salary portion, or even “share” the employee. The biggest benefit of all of these... read more

Millennials To Surpass Baby Boomer Population In 2015

In 2015, the Millennial generation population will surpass the Baby Boom generation as the largest living generation in the US (per the US Census Bureau). The Millennials are between 18 and 34 years old in 2015. The Millennial population is projected to reach it’s highest in 2036. Many of the Millennials are immigrants or children of immigrants who arrived in the US starting in the 1940s. (Whitehouse.gov report Oct 2014 on Millennials). As a result, the Millennials are an extremely diverse generation. In addition Millennials are very tech savvy, and value community, family and creativity in their work. More information on Millenials: How can Fairs attract Millennials and their... read more


Want to attract new customers to your Fair? Every Fair can showcase STEM/STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) programming and activities. Look at what you currently offer and identify ways to pull out the STEAM elements. Many of these activities that are already created, or, with a little adjustments, can be easily transformed into STEM/STEAM activities. As a result of the STEAM programming at the Alameda County Fair, a major medical provider agreed to become a sponsor of a weekend of activities that were health and fitness themed. The sponsor provided staff and equipment to conduct health checks, fitness testing etc. It is a win win for both the sponsor and the Fair. In addition, these activities are attractive to day camps, summer schools and home schooled children. All of the organizers of these groups are readily seeking new ways to teach children in a fun and entertaining way. Below is an example of Alameda County Fair’s STEAM programming: Come & explore Alameda County’s Largest Classroom! The Alameda County Fair is a living learning classroom that offers an almost limitless variety of activities and experiences that are not only fun but educational as well! Thousands of exhibits and hundreds of activities await inquisitive minds and offer educational opportunities for the entire family as well as youth groups. The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes at the fair will tickle your senses and create unique learning experiences – in a safe and family friendly environment! Did you know research shows young people experience learning loss when they do not participate in educational activities during the summer? 

Alameda County Fair offers many... 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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