View Full Version : County Fair Season is upon us... what have you done for promotion at yours?

07-06-2011, 07:02 AM
With county fair season upon us once again, I am feeling the usual feelings of inadequacy in the marketing department. Ours draws a huge crowd, but I know they won't permit characters in costume roaming the grounds, etc. In short, the usual stuff we do for parades and such.

Has anyone actually done a booth? How did that work out for you? Any other cool ideas? Doing a mini-haunt is out, it would only be permitted on the midway and the amusement company has exclusive rights to that space. They require two arms, a leg and your firstborn child..

Karl Fields
07-06-2011, 09:26 AM
We have a booth at our county fair - and we have characters roaming the midway. Our cost? zero, nada, zilch (well except for the cost of coupons, the booth itself, paying the actors, food, drinks ...).
The Alameda County Fair sees about 30,000 people a day and is open for 20 days.

Our fair loves us, of course it helps that our haunt is on the fairgrounds :) One of the benefits of spending those tens of thousands of dollars pay in rent. We rent 3 acres for the haunt and 2 acres for our new corn maze.

At this year's fair, we started with a really small walk through, more curio than haunt, charging a couple of bucks. Closed it after a week because it was taking too much labor away from the primary goal of coupons distribution.

Our booth is right next to the main stage exit with two concerts a night. So we not only get the patrons from the show but get to hobnob with the has-been or want-to-be bands. Actually got some characters on stage for Blue Oyster Cult, Tower of Power and Foghat. Of course most of the characters didn't know who the bands were - kids nowadays!

The daytime crew is simply in haunt tshirts. Lots of families with strollers and they aren't in the mood to be approached by characters. The night crew is several people in tshirts and 3 or 4 characters. Tshirts give the coupons and characters do what characters do: create a spectacle and photo ops.

We cannot do coupons outside our immediate area.

We are in an area called 'sponsor alley'. Basically this area is for vendors that contribute something (usually money) to the fairgrounds. Tire company, cell phones services, 7-11, etc.

So never say never :)

Jim Warfield
07-06-2011, 01:52 PM
Park my Spookmobile at the Carroll Co. fair, I did, parked myself with it. I was amazed at how few people were there. I have been told fairs are not doing so well anymore, I know this sure isn't compared to what it was when I was a kid going there.

07-06-2011, 04:40 PM
A couple haunts I have worked with have had great success at fairs with booths as well as guerrilla style hand to hand marketing . If you do a booth make sure to make it interactive and fun. Have face painting, games to win tickets, etc... Also at least ask about roaming around in character, or even to distribute flyers and such (even if not in character). You may have to tone it down a LOT for the family friendly nature of the fair/carnival, but many will let you do it for free or in some cases for a small advertising fee. You can also sponsor events at the fair such as Demo Derby (even a car painted with your logo) and more. There are a lot of great ways to promote at fairs/carnivals/festivals.

In some cases if not too close to your opening, you may even be able to contract a small modular side attraction at the fair. The setup/teardown is near impossible as you have sometimes 1-2 days to do it in, but it is doable even if you dont have a roll in trailer attraction. We did several years at an indoor amusement park in the months of April-March that usually did quite well. Enough to get our name out more, give potential patrons a taste of what they would see in October, and keep everyone practiced mid year. It was basically one attraction of our full season 4 attraction show. In the end it was more a marketing endeavor than a money maker, but it definitely was a nice to do mid spring.

Mike "Pogo" Hach

07-07-2011, 03:14 AM
I have done 3 parades so far. YES I have a Rotting Flesh Radio Float LOL. Its pretty slick and worksi n promotion.

I have a few people walk with some silicone masks on, etc. and also at the end of the parade route we offer free make up work for 30-45 minutes after.

Its works. Tossing our the skull candies, the haunt float and also the twisted haunt and horror tunes roaring out always help.

I still have 2 more parades and 3 events to attend with the RFR float.