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 participation?

Many times the media tries to drive that message, based on attendance. To them, a slight dip in attendance means a fair wasn’t successful. Well, what about a slight dip in attendance with no significant issues? Or fair revenues are up, vendors’ and the carnival operators’ revenues are up, yet attendance wasn’t higher than the previous year? To those of us working in the Fair Industry … that’s a successful Fair! So, clearly, there is no definitive answer to what constitutes a successful Fair.  

From booking entertainment to understanding your financial reports, a Fair CEO must have a broad knowledge base. So, let’s get started!

The first thing to look at is the Fair’s finances. Here is a quick checklist:

  • Budget
  • Income Statement
  • Assets/Liabilities
  • Cash flow

The budget is your map, the income statement offers directions and the cash flow is your destination.  The Assets/Liabilities can indicate strengths and weaknesses in the operation.

First, identify where the main revenues are coming from. If the annual Fair is the sole source of revenue for the organization, chances are there are huge peaks and valleys for cash flow. It’s imperative to create additional sources of cash flow.  

Next, identify where the main expenses are going. Personnel is generally one of the largest expenses, however, a good staff will make any CEO’s job easier.  Are there vendor contracts in place that could be re-negotiated for new rates? Take the first year to question every expense. Ask yourself if an expense is necessary to run the operation. Is there a better way to do purchasing? After the first year, you’ll have a better idea of your cash flow.

If the majority of cash flow comes in at one time of the year, how are expenses monitored throughout the year? Make sure to do a budget comparison each month. It’s easier to make small adjustments to the operation than find out 6 months later that one expense is out of control.

The second thing to look at is personnel. Who is doing what and is that the best use of the employees’ time and skill sets? Just because an employee has been responsible for a particular area for 10 years doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for their skills or the organization. Fair Staff love what they do and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

The third thing to do is purchase a copy of How to Plan A Wildly Successful Fair and hear from our 10 professionals and experts in their fields.

As a thank you for purchasing this book I’d like to give you a free bonus – Interview Do’s and Don’ts.

Forward your receipt to: [email protected].

If you have specific questions you’d like answered, please reach out to us at [email protected].

For additional information and resources, visit our website, www.WildlySuccessfulFair.com

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6 Financial Reports You Need To Review Monthly And Why

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 Report identifies what cash came in and what cash went out during a period of time. This is actual cash in and actual cash out.

The purpose of reviewing the report for the current period will educate you on what happens during any one particular month/period. With any business, cash flow changes from month to month, for a variety of reasons. For the Fairs, their cash flow increases during the “Fair” month, and decreases, or may be non-existent, during other months. If your Fair has a low cash flow month, it’s imperative that the CEO understand what expenses must be paid during that time, and which ones can be deferred for a later time. In these situations, weekly monitoring of cash flow may be necessary to provide you with an accurate and timely financial picture.


Cash Flow Report for Past 6 Months and Projected Cash Flow for Next 6 Months

Reviewing the cash flow report for the current period alone will not provide you with the entire picture. This Cash Flow Report will provide you with a good idea of what happened, and what is expected to come.  Reviewing this report monthly will also make it easier to identify those months that you may need to “tighten up” on spending.


Accounts Receivable List

This report will provide you with a list of money that is due to the Fair. In most cases this is revenue from renting your facilities although it could be vendor space rental, food vendor revenue or even sponsorship money. Review this list monthly to identify potential problems in collecting funds. For example, if an event promoter has an outstanding balance that hasn’t been paid for in more than 30 days, a written reminder should be sent with an invoice. It’s important to stay on top of potential “bad debts”. Keep in mind that any unpaid accounts receivables could end up in court. Document, document, document any and all attempts to collect the debt. If you do this as you invoice, it will be much easier if you need to go to court.


Accounts Payable List

As with the cash flow reports, the accounts payable report is all about cash – what your Fair owes to others. This could be for supplies, a loan payment, refunds, etc. If this report is not inclusive of all funds your Fair owes then you have an incomplete picture of the Fair’s debts. Not having the full picture is very misleading!



Your financial picture is made up of many parts that make the whole picture. If any of these don’t look right …. it’s up to you to question, research and understand what’s happening with the financials of your organization!