- Wade Henry         February 11, 2011

The purpose of promotion for any enterprise is “to make the organization’s services broadly known and highly thought of”.

You spend a lot of time planning out the activities for your Fair.  You spend a lot of money to bring in attractions, rides, vendors and exhibits to the event.

It would be a sad thing for people in your community to not even know that these wonderful things were happening in their own backyard.

That’s why you need to promote.  The things that are happening at the Fair need to be “broadly known and highly thought of”.

Often, when we think of effective promotion for a Fair, Festival or Event, we think of slick ad campaigns sent over the media channels of radio, TV or Highway Billboards.   These campaigns can be expensive.  And website development along with social media advertising programs can cost much in terms of both money and time.  Most fairs are run by volunteers with limited time to donate.  And budgets don’t always allow for professional ad campaigns.

There are great ways to promote the fair with little or no cost. 
One way is to send your entertainment to the local schools.

Many fairs don’t realize who their best salespeople are out in the field.  Of course, the best salesperson for a fair is a KID.  Indeed, some adults bring their children to the fairgrounds simply because the kid(s) know the fair is in town and will persistent with the “hard sell salesmanship” (so characteristic of kids) that will get them there.

Ever notice how persistent a kid can be when asking for something? Have you noticed how advertising for many cereals and other foods are directed – not at adults (who buy the food)….but to children?

Once a kid knows what he wants, his enthusiasm for it can become virtually unkillable.  The kid is then transformed into a salesperson for that product or service.  And he will nag his parent(s) until they submit to the whim.   And in some families, there isn’t even any resistance.  (And, for some products – which are good for the family….there shouldn’t be!)

In many cases, it’s not the parents who are bringing kids to the Fair.  It’s actually kids who are bringing the parents! 

So the question becomes – How do you reach the kids in your promotional actions?  With all those carnival rides, bright lights, games, entertainment and animals – kids clamor for the fair experience.  If they know the fair is in town, they will bring parents, family and friends.  They don’t have driver licenses of their own – so they will always come as a group.


The very best way to accomplish this is to visit the elementary and/or high schools in the area.  In this way, you can expose yourself to HUNDREDS OF KIDS AT A TIME.

Here’s a sample promotional campaign that would cost a fair nothing:

1. Select a grounds attraction that you are already paying to be at your  fairgrounds.

2. Get the entertainer’s agreement to donate a “publicity show” to a local school.

3.  Contact your local schools and let them know you can bring a short presentation to the school which features some aspects of the Fair.  This can include educational aspects, such as facts about Agriculture or the history of the Fair.

3. Deliver the show in the school gym or auditorium on a weekday morning.

4. As part of the entertainment, have the talent enlighten the audience about some of the exciting things that are happening at the fair.

5. At the end of the presentation or show, invite them to come to the Fair with family and friends.

That’s really all there is to it.

In some cases, the entertainer may not be willing to contribute the extra show as part of his/her contractual arrangement.  If this is the case, see if he will switch one of his sets on the fairgrounds with a satellite show in the community.  Or pro-rate his daily rate for an extra show at the school.

The educational merits of the fair experience should be stressed with school administrators when they are approached.  The best way to learn about animals and agriculture is by visiting a fairgrounds and seeing these things first hand.  As a fair board, you have just as much right in educating kids about agriculture as anyone else.  You are a partner and team player in this educational aspect - and any school should see you as such.  As a partner in education, any school should open their doors to you for a brief presentation.   Many of us learned what we know of these subjects at both school and at the fair.  (As well as other places!)

In many cases, the fair might not be running during the school year.  Many fairs run in July or  when school is out.  In this case, you just need to find out where else kids congregate.   Many private schools do operate through the summer or at least further into the summer than the public school system.   Churches, youth groups and Sunday Schools are another possibility.  Libraries, summer camps and recreational centers might also welcome a visit.   School might be out, but kids don’t just disappear.  They’ve gone somewhere.  The key is to find out where they are.  That’s the place to take your promoter/entertainer.  

The five step campaign for school visits has many advantages over high-cost advertising.  Here’s a summary:

a) Most grounds attractions are entertainment personalities who have a great deal of experience in communicating with kids.   They are very effective with school audiences.  School shows are a smart use of this talent.

b) Most grounds attractions will be happy to donate a show (or more) to a local school.  They are committed to your fair for the week and are already there in town.  No extra travel is really involved to make a school show happen.

c) Any school has a gym or auditorium.  This is an optimum facility to use for a short presentation/show.  Hundreds of your key target audience can be spoken to at once.

d) Live shows and presentations are MUCH more exciting and memorable than material delivered over the mass media – even for kids.  Why spend thousands on mass media advertising when you have live entertainment for use at your fingertips?

e) The optimum time for a presentation at a school is in the morning.   With most fairgrounds opening at noon (or after), the schedule is very doable for your hired grounds entertainment.

f) The type of attendees most fairs want is the family.  It’s usually families who gain the benefits of fair education.   And families spend money on rides and food.  The way to reach and promote to the family is through the kids…which means schools are the optimum medium.

g) If nothing else, the fair is contributing something special to the community by delivering some entertainment at a local school.  It is a wonderful PR action that can result in nothing but positive returns for a fair.

Providing a presentation at the school(s) will inevitably result in HUNDREDS of salespeople equipped to return home and sell your event to their families.  And these salespeople, by their very nature, will be some of the most persistent and enthusiastic salespeople you could possibly have. 

School Show

Wade Henry
Wade Henry has been performing his act at Fairs across the U.S. & Canada for over 20 years.    He specializes in Stage Shows, Street Performances and Strolling Entertainment.   He has delivered over 10,000 shows throughout his career at hundreds of Fairs, Festivals and Exhibitions.