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DESPITE HEAT, OHIO STATE FAIR ONLY DOWN 1%

8/24/2007

By MCW Editor

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Columbus - August has been an extremely hot and humid month in the Midwest and many of the nation's largest events have had to deal with the sweltering summer weather. The Ohio State Fair had nine 90-degree days during the fair's 12 day run. Despite the weather, the fair had an attendance of 806,301, down just slightly from 2006. Ride gross was also slightly down at $1,633,030. Gate pricing remained the same as 2006 with adults $8 and youth and seniors $7 at the gate. Advance sale admissions were $6 and numerous special discounts and promotions were offered. The fair had 175 food vendors, the same as in 2006.

Christina Minier, Director of Marketing & P.R. for the fair said, "Despite the extreme heat, we overall had a good run. The entertainment line-up was especially strong this year, helping bring in nice evening crowds". The lineup for the event and ticket pricing follows:

Daughtry with special guest Day of Fire Wed., Aug. 1 $32
Gary Allan Thurs., Aug. 2 $18
KEM Fri., Aug. 3 $10
George Jones / Merle Haggard Sat., Aug. 4 $30
All-Ohio State Fair Band & Youth Choir Concert* Sun., Aug. 5 FREE
Diana Reyes Sun., Aug. 5 $15
Jeremy Camp with special guest The Afters Mon., Aug. 6 $8
"Johnny Cash Tribute Show" starring Tommy Cash Tues., Aug. 7 FREE
Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo Tues., Aug. 7 $18
"Weird Al" Yankovic Wed., Aug. 8 $20
Corbin Bleu & Drake Bell with special guest Jordan Pruitt Thurs,Aug. 9 $25
Charlie Wilson Fri., Aug. 10 $10
Quiet Riot / Slaughter Sat., Aug. 11 $8
Sale of Champions Livestock Auction* Sun., Aug. 12 FREE
Rascal Flatts with special guest Jason Aldean Sun., Aug. 12 $45, $55, $65

In addition to the grandstand shows, the fair introduced several new promotions and special performances this year. The Satellite Sports BMX Stunt Show was an activity aimed at the youth market. The show was heavily promoted and garnered solid attendance figures.

Another event receiving great media attention was the "Amazing Fair Race". Working with a local radio station, they created a fair version of the popular series "Amazing Race" where contestants complete tasks for clues to their ultimate destination. Minier said the race was "a great promotion with lots of coverage".

Also new to the fair this year was a collector's edition poster. The fair worked with a statewide magazine to create a fair painting. This painting was then turned into a poster for collectors.

With the consolidation of media companies, satellite radio, the internet and a host of other non-traditional sources, marketing has become a whole new ballgame. Creative campaigns are required to get the attention and information in a crowded marketplace.

One of the ways the Ohio State Fair promoted the event to one segment of the population, the Hispanic market, was through the use of street teams. The fair had a large national act in Diana Reyes and they marketed the event through poster and flyer distribution, working with local Hispanic businesses selling tickets and building tie-ins to the fair. The promotion worked very well, resulting in a well-attended concert.

The internet and the fair's website also played increasingly large roles this year. The fair allocated more money to internet marketing and branded all advertising prominently with the fair's web address, ohiostatefair.com.

On the midway, Amusements of America returned for their fifteenth anniversary in Columbus. This is the first year of the carnival's new four-year contract. Wristband prices were increased $3 this year, helping to keep the ride gross close to even despite a slight drop in fair attendance. The show had 65 rides on the midway including the Crazy Mouse Coaster, the new G-Force and Wave Swinger. Book-ins included Jane Baxter with her Space Roller, Wade Shows with an Enterprise, and Belle City with their Power Surge. A layout and ride list can be found below.

Ohio State Fair Layout

One highlight of fair coverage this year was the Columbus Dispatch profile of assistant General Manager Luis Perez. Perez has long been involved with the fair, especially with the vendors and carnival midway. The article can be found by clicking here.

Besides Minier and Perez, other key staff members play a large roll in producing the event. Virgil Strickler, General Manager, oversees the 7 million dollar fair budget and directly manages the fair's agricultural competitions. Virgil was Agriculture Director for the fair prior to ascending to the general manager post.

Brett Chance is another assistant general manager and Entertainment Director. Brett books all the Celeste Center concert events along with overseeing special events and human resources year-round.

Douglas Smalley is Finance Director for the fair. Doug is in charge of the finance department which is directly responsible for the all important cash controls in gates and parking. In addition, the job is responsible for budgeting and financial controls.

After a wrap-up and analysis of the 2007 event, planning will begin for the 2008 Ohio State Fair July 30 - August. 10th.

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