More than the Fair: Building Community with Non-Fair Events
In our previous post, we discussed two great things to consider when looking to alleviate budget cuts for your fair. The first is something of a “long-term” solution. By working with associations that support the same values and purpose, you join in the mission of advocating the experiences and impact that your business brings to countless attendees. The second point recommends a shift to a more self-sufficient business model. The differentiator in the success or failure of your fair depends on how efficiently resources are being utilized. I’m talking, of course, about your staff and the fairgrounds. Staff members can work for efficiently when given the rights tools. And fairgrounds hold a fantastic opportunity to generate additional revenue all year long if you can unlock its potential.
Let’s talk about fairground utilization! To be sure, fairgrounds aren’t alone in looking to offset budgetary issues by reconsidering how their space is used apart from their primary events. What sets fairgrounds apart from other venues though is how uniquely well-suited they often are to offering up a plethora of non-traditional options. Here are a few examples to keep in mind:
1) Parking Lots
Rental space. Need I say more? Ok, I will. In the off season, parking lots are often left to bask in the sunlight—and not much else. This unused space can be offered as storage for various recreational vehicles like campers, boats, trailers, etc. Don't forget to extend the invitation to local government entities; expanding city municipalities are always in need of additional storage.
Depending on your setup, the parking lots or adjoining areas may be used during the fair season for on-site campgrounds. Consider offering this as a year-round amenity. It could be an especially attractive option for travelers with horses, who can utilize the livestock stalls for overnight stays and rest assured knowing they’re nearby.
Sidenote: This is a great way to utilize unused space but keep in mind security around the property. This strategy works best for fairgrounds that typically have people present year-round.
If your fairground includes a large stadium or arena, you're in luck. There are a heap of options in how you can offer this space for rental. Possibilities include car shows, extreme sports attractions (like Motocross, etc), concerts, rodeos, wildlife exhibits, tractor shows, horse races, etc. Keep an open mind!
It's often the main attraction on your grounds and the grandstand should be enjoyed by more than your fair-goers. Consider promoting this space for its unique production value. Think: movies, commercials, theatrical performances. If you are able to list out the specifications of your space with images that showcase the Grandstand in all its glory, this could be a potential revenue-generating machine.
4) Exhibit Halls
This is another option where the possibilities are many. Events or meetings have a way of bringing people together that no technological advancement can come close to touching. In-person events are not going away anytime soon and event spaces are limited; offer a clear calendar that shows open space availability. It'd be even better if potential clients could book that space (and fill out all of the necessary fields without ever having to talk to a staff member) and then pay for the rental right there on your website.
5) Livestock Pavilions
Livestock halls or pavilions can be utilized in the off season as well. As mentioned in relation to the campgrounds, these buildings offer a safe and protected place for various show animals to stay. Consider partnering with local school districts for an educational wildlife exhibition or a fun, interactive petting zoo.
A Staple in the Community
When a fairground is able to offer year-round events space, the community feels more involved with the fair's mission. The fairgrounds become known for more than just "the fair," it becomes a place where memories are created. This is a vital aspect of what the fair represents. The sense of community can be emphasized throughout the entire year!
Making the Dream a Reality
The best way to make all of these possibilities a reality is with promotion. We understand that fair and fairgrounds staff usually have limited "free" time to pursue rentals and other space utilization options. But by giving your staff the necessary tools for efficient operations to minimize tasks and streamline processes, you're not only giving them an opportunity to help your fair be bigger and better than ever but also freeing up time to devote to other rev/gen activities.