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FLORIDA FAIR NEWS CONTINUED…...………..……………………………………….. Starting A New Fair 101

B il Cno. Mngr rvr ony Fi y Bl ann aae, Bead Cut ar Lisa Hinton asked me to put together an article on “ How

To Start a Fair.” I guess I was asked because we here in Brevard County were the last group to step up and do what Larry the Cable Guy says, “Get R Done.” Just as some background, there was a Brevard County

Fair up until ten to twelve years ago when the Charter hold- ers let the Charter expire. The Fair was originally held at the Cocoa Expo grounds in Cocoa usually in October and November. The Fair moved to the Palm Bay area where admissions fell off and the entire venue was dropped after a couple of seasons. An independent Fair started back at the Expo area and continues today. At first, all of our 4-H activities were plugged into the independent venue. After several seasons, the 4-H Foundation felt that the participation of our youth at that Fair was not in their best interest. Our Federation President, our Extension Agent, 4-H Agents, Foundation Members, Master Garden- ers and a core of local business owners, formed a new Fair Board. There was no money so we were able to secure a loan from which a budget was set and we established a relationship with one of our local banks. A lot of work went into finding out what it took to apply for the State Charter and as a result, we were granted the Charter. We also de- cided early on that our Fair would be alcohol free. We knew that alcohol sales could generate sizable revenue but we did not want the situations that sometimes come with their sale. Now, we had three years to put on our first Fair. Seeing that there was no official Fairgrounds, we had to

find a site and a midway provider. I first spoke with a small show but with no luck. Next, I spoke with a larger company who offered to help us with the site selection. They were a great help and we decided on a site that was already being used for other small festivals. We were able to enter into a partnership with Brevard County Parks and Recreation De- partment who manages the facility which is adjacent to the Melbourne Campus of Brevard Community College. There was paved, lit parking so that was a big plus. Now it was time to negotiate a contract for our midway so naturally we approached the company that had helped us out up to this point. Unfortunately we were not able to come to terms that were acceptable to everyone concerned so we were still looking for a midway. The next company we spoke with was an established company and they thought that we had potential for success and agreed to help us get started. I started visiting other Fairs around the state collecting any and all kinds of forms that I felt would help us in starting to get things in place for our new Brevard County Fair. Cer- tainly one of the major factors was joining the Florida Fed- eration of Fairs. By being able to network with established Fairs around the state, meet and talk with other Fair Man- agers and their Board Members, a wealth of knowledge was at hand. At my first summer meeting, I took notes con- stantly. I have found that by sitting down, one on one, with other Federation members and Associate members, so


much can be learned. I also learned that one person can’t do it all, you must delegate responsibilities if you are going to succeed and maintain any sanity you might have left. While all this was going on, we were shopping for insur-

ance, negotiating soda contracts, negotiating ice contracts. We were able to partner with our local waste contractor and they have been a big help in our waste disposal and we have helped them with educating the public in recycling. There was so much. Working with the local fire and health department officials making sure that all our venues comply with local code. Contacting vendors for the independent midway, large tent rental, fence rental, securing local enter- tainment, portable toilet rental, a contractor for removal of used cooking oil, mulch and bedding for the 4-H animals, arranging for paid help in operations, arranging security and first aid, arranging to borrow equipment and supplies, making sure that we would be able to meet all the power and water needs, just to mention a few. We were on our way. Where does everything go to make

it all work. That is where our midway provider was able to help out. They sent a representative over and we met at the site. He was able to tell us what needed to be where for the best flow of guests that should work for everyone and they were spot on. Everything from the ride placement to where the portable restrooms should be placed. Everything was starting to come together but there were still some loose ends. We had all stepped out on faith and we were flying by the seat of our pants. The exciting thing was that everyone wanted the Fair to succeed. To make things more exciting, I was informed that our

Fair was going to be judged our first year. Oh boy! At this point we were full speed ahead. We had the usual hiccups, some bad weather and what I like to call, controlled confu- sion but we thought it was GREAT! The bottom line was that we were able to pay all our bills and have some funds left to start next year. We felt that we were able to produce a quality Fair and create that, “I want to come back” attitude by our guests and vendors. Of course you can’t please everyone all the time but we sure tried. We are very fortu- nate, as most Fairs are, to have wonderful volunteers who’s visions concur with ours. We are all volunteers here and that is what makes it so special. As a result of every- one’s hard work, we were recognized by the Federation as a Blue Ribbon Fair at our Daytona Beach Convention in 2009, that was an abbreviated version of the first one. We had our second Fair and again finished in the black. Fair number two presented new challenges but we were able to resolve most of them. Our attendance was up about 20% and we expect that to be even greater at number three. I am still asking questions, taking notes and I know that will continue. The Brevard County Fair will continue to hold our standards high to maintain the quality venue we have cre- ated so far. We owe so much to the Federation and all the Managers and Members who have shared so much with us to help us get off on the right foot in this exciting business. I guess the day will come when someone will ask my opinion about some aspect of our Fair operation.

Remember to take photographs for the Annual Directory Cover Contest

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