Now’s a fair time to plan for the county fair

2016_088-1121-Hoosier Farmer-6The county fair season is still months away, but now is a good time to think about what you want to accomplish during your county fair.

An important part of your plan is identifying who comes to your fair and why they come. Many fairs will be full of 4-H families, many of which are engaged in agriculture already. Some people will just be there for the rides, while others may attend for the food and animals. Who do you want to talk to?

The next step is having a message. The important thing to keep in mind is that generally, people come to the county fair to have fun. It’s not that you can’t have a serious message; you just have to present it in an interesting way. Something as simple as letting people know what Farm Bureau does locally and that it’s not just insurance is a good place to start.

Many counties have a booth or building. If you have a food booth, put your county logo on food containers – milkshake cups, popcorn bags, etc. If custom printing on the items is too costly, print stickers to affix to the items. Print extra – now you have stickers for the kids.

If you have a booth that doesn’t sell food, offer an activity that engages people, and offer a prize at the end, if possible. A few counties do ag fact scavenger hunts. This is a great way to expose people to local agriculture and Farm Bureau. Prize wheels and quizzes are also engaging. By asking your audience to participate in an activity with you, you improve the odds your message will be received.

Which brings me to prizes: make sure it’s something your audience wants or will find useful. It’s tempting to buy inexpensive trinkets to hand to anyone who walks by, but someone who grabs a trinket and keeps walking likely didn’t hear your message, and that’s what you want. Ask yourself, “If I were visiting a booth, would I spend a full minute talking to a stranger to get this item?” It’s better to engage with a message then offer something useful or desirable in exchange for the time to learn about Farm Bureau or agriculture from you.

Don’t have a booth, or can’t find people to work a booth? Sponsor something. Be sure that when you do, your county name and logo are prominently featured.

Parting words: Please be mindful that your activities reflect positively on Farm Bureau, farmers and agriculture. Shared values are the first step to reaching those without knowledge of agriculture. If you do something that conflicts with those values, your message won’t reach them.