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Using Attractions to Manage Traffic Flow Wade Henry

Do your fair attendees find their way to all parts of your

event? Do you have unbalanced crowd distribution across your grounds? Are there parts of your fairgrounds which seem emp-

ty….whereas other areas are densely populated? There are methods for putting control on traffic flow. A fair

manager can design his/her layout with this in mind. I remember being in the administrative office with the

manager of a well-known fair in the Midwest. On the wall was a large photo of the grounds taken from an airplane during a fair in the 1970’s. The layout looked familiar – even 40-years later. Of course, there were some chang- es: the grounds had grown and there were a few buildings missing. The most interesting thing in the photo were the people. You could see the bodies: little groupings of peo- ple scattered around. Some were on the carnival midway, some around the food pavilion… audience at an out- door stage and so on. What amazed me was that the density of people was so

different from one area to the next. We looked at the map and commented on it. Some areas had people. Other are- as were empty. If you were to get an exterior view of your grounds, how

would it look? A “bird’s-eye-view” can be very revealing. With an exterior view, efforts can be made to make your

“people distribution” more ideal. Have you just been doing the same thing year-after-year? Should something be changed? Once the “ideal scene” is known, certain meth- ods can be applied to achieve it…..or reinforce it. Attractions such as Stage Shows, Strolling Acts, Station-

ary Acts and Concerts have long been used to manage crowd flow and even out densities. They are called “Attractions” because, well……they attract. They can be used to distribute attendees around the grounds. Imagine a large map of the grounds on a table. Scatter

a few hundred coins around the map – those coins are the “attendees.” Now, imagine you have half a dozen mag- nets. Now, place the magnets where you want people to congregate. Those magnets are your attractions. This can all be done conceptually. Here’s your “crowd control”. (And hopefully, your “magnets” are powerful enough to

pull “coins” onto the map from off the grounds and else- where!) With all this in mind, here are some tips: 1. Make Them Go the Distance

For very large attractions such as concerts and other tick-

eted venues, plan the layout so that attendees MUST walk through the grounds to get to the stadium/arena en- trance. This ensures your “concert-goer” will also be a “fair- goer.” You always want your public to have the whole fair experience. A famous example of this is the State Fair of Texas. The

92,000-seat Cottonbowl sits in the middle of State Fair Park. The fair hosts 2 highly-attended college football games during the run of the fair. Every game attendee has a long way to walk across the grounds from any of the fair’s multiple entrances. The football fan always gets a fair expe- rience just by coming to a game. 2. Spread the Love Around

Faircracker SUMMER 2019 Spread your other attractions out so that people are dis-

tributed logically. It seldom makes sense to bundle all your entertainment into one single area. Rather than have an “Entertainment Area” it usually makes more sense to have themed areas such as “Kids Zone,” “Ag complex,” “Food Court,” “Commercial Exhibits,” “Livestock”……and then have nearby entertain- ment that is well-fitted for each category of public. 3.

Help Out Your

Vendors & Exhibitors If you have vendors/

exhibitors who are un- happy with traffic vol- ume, a good plan is to direct a Strolling Act to generate activi- ty. This brings more people to the area and also makes them stay longer. With some intelligent

design and a little plan- ning, the fairgoer can be given an extraordinary fair experi- ence that includes all that each fair has to offer.

Wade Henry is an accomplished Strolling Act and Stage

Entertainer and member of the Florida Federation of Fairs and Livestock Shows. He has delivered over 10,000 per- formances during the past 20 years at hundreds of Fairs. He can be reached through his website at

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