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Shawn Krauel new General Manager of Central Florida Fair
Rain dampens attendance but not enthusiasm


By John Owens, CFE

Photo courtesy of Central FL Fair

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At 35 years of age Shawn Krauel, the newly appointed COO and General Manager of the Central Florida Fair, is already a 15 year veteran of managing events including festivals, fairs, trade shows and consumer events.  Krauel said he has a "passion for music, events and festival management as well as marketing and web-based design and programming". He comes from the South Florida Fair  in West Palm Beach where he was the manager of the fair's 120,000 sq. ft Expo Center.  He worked with all the events and promoters including Barrett-Jackson, Feld Entertainment, over 100 events a year.  He credits his success to his mentor, Rick Vymlatil, for the encouragement and advice given during his time at the South Florida Fair.  Krauel also worked alongside former Director "Buck" Christian at the South Florida Fair learning Photo By Central FL Fairfrom another industry giant.

Krauel said that the 2013 Central Florida Fair hosted 125,000 attendees, 12% less than in 2012.  The drop was due predominately to bad weather.  "It was very cold a few of the days of the fair and that had a negative impact on the fair" Krauel said.  Although the fair website says the event usually averages about 250,000 attendees, Krauel said  "that is an old figure that needs to be changed but is definitely a target we would love to attain again".  Krauel cited his partners for achieving his goal.  "Wade Shows is the best midway carnival around" said Krauel, crediting the carnival for much of the recent and future success of this long running event.  During a recent debriefing session with the City of Orlando Police Department, police officials commented that the 2013 fair was the safest fair ever.  A proud Krauel said "one of the things I want to change about the Central Florida Fair is the negative perception the fair has within the Central Florida community".  Improving the safety is a big step in that direction.  Krauel also wants to bring in new people and encourage others, who haven't visited the fair in a long time, to revisit and experience the fair with all of it's improvements. 

With regard to safety, Krauel  has initiated the use of police gang units, electronic scanning of everyone prior to admission, bag checks, the placing of towers in parking lot on weekends, the use  of horse mounted units on weekends and the use of cameras to constantly scan the midway and parking lots.  Monitors in the on-site police command post keep an eye on the entire fair.  This year families stayed on the midway into the evening without incident.  The fair only had a couple of arrests for minor infractions such as trespassing.  Krauel wants to make sure he maintains a high profile for his security teams.

As far as other changes at the fair, Krauel wants to engage his customers and give them a compelling reason to attend the event.  He plans to bring in national bands again.  He thinks it might be a good idea to switch out his grounds entertainment from one weekend to the next in the hopes of creating a more compelling reason for customers to come back to the fair on the second weekend to see the new acts.

Krauel says he is very comfortable dealing with major corporate promoters like Live Nation and AEG.  He knows a lot of the booking agents, management companies and concert promoters and thinks they can be of great value when he starts looking at bringing in national acts for the fair and when he is encouraging the promoters, radio stations and sponsors to bring in shows during the year.  He adds that the Expo Park hosts over 100 events and festivals a year including the Warped Tour, major concerts, and consumer and trade shows.  He would like to eventually build a 4,500 -5,000 seat amphitheater at the edge of the lake. 

Currently the grounds have 80,000 sq. ft. of building space and a 50,000 sq. ft. pavilion.  "I think we can attract more events into the Central Florida Expo Park" he observed.  Krauel wants to make doing business at the Expo Park easier and more attractive than it has been by allowing promoters to do buy-outs of the food and beer concessions as well as make the Fair & Expo Park a non-exclusive facility when it comes to products and services like soft drinks.  The facility no longer offers exclusive pouring rights. 

Krauel brought in the rock group Trapt on a Tuesday night during the 2013 Fair and had over 2,000 people attend the show. "That's 2,000 new people on a Tuesday night that we may have never attracted to the fairgrounds.  They came because of the concert.", he said.  Krauel said he has been very successful booking acts during weekdays while at the South Florida Fair and believes it could work very well at the Central Florida Fair as well.   He looks forward to expanding  Expo and Festival park activities, scheduling new events both co-promoted and independently promoted.

He is most proud of his recent selection as General Manager/C.O.O of the Central Florida Fair & Expo Park.  "I have worked in all the departments that comprise a fair and I have had the opportunity to learn each of them, so this opportunity is the culmination of the 15 years I have worked in the this industry".

Krauel currently lives in Oviedo with his wife Tina and 12 year-old daughter Taylor.

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