The Broward County Fair will return from Friday, Nov. 16 through Sunday, Dec. 2 at its new location at The Big Easy Casino, located along Federal Highway in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
The fair's new home is situated two miles away from its previous location at Gulfstream Park. Fair Manager Harlan Bast, now in his second year of running the fair, says the new site provides much more room as well as up to five times the parking space than last year's location.
The 2017 fair was important because it marked the first time Broward County Fair had been put on in five years. Prior to this, the last fair was held at Pembroke Pines in 2012. The fair has faced some challenges since its inception, one of the biggest being where to house the event every year.
“In South Florida there is not a lot of land,” says Bast. “It is very populated and in previous years we ran out of space for the fair. In fact, where we held it previously is now all homes and businesses.”
While organizers had initially been nervous, the 2017 event also marked the first time in 25 years that the fair was said to have netted a decent amount of money.
“We watched how we spent the money, and ran it as a business,” adds Bast. “The fair makes money now. The public really loved it last year and we had a lot of good reviews, without any negatives.”
Veteran fair board members were also said to have been impressed.
Broward County Fair brought in almost 100,000 visitors last year. Though the 2017 event at Gulfstream Park fared well and the goal of getting the fair back on its feet was met, the new location opens up the doors for greater potential.
“I really like this new location as we have room to grow,” says Bast. “We want to grow as big as we can. Make it as big as we can possibly grow. It is an opportunity to run my hometown fair and I don't take it lightly, I want to do a great job. We have great fair planned this year. People can expect to come out for a first-class fair that's been out for over three decades.”
What Fairgoers Can Expect
One thing that makes Broward County Fair different from more typical county fairs is the fact that attention is primarily focused on the midway and shows.
While the fair does work with local groups such as 4-H, FFA, Band Boosters and the Beekeepers Association, Bast says that the crowds seem to be drawn to the midway and entertainment more than anything else. Because of this, there are not many exhibits, though visitors can explore displays such as those that revolve around horticulture and also check out booths showcasing writing, art, science, history and photography entries.
Most of the action will be found on the midway, where visitors will also encounter strolling acts, comedians and jugglers. This year there will be a shiny new front gate to welcome patrons, as well as a new ticket box trailer that features 10 sellers which will help visitors gain speedy entry into the fair.
Food & Fun
Around 40 food vendors will also be featured for 2018. Some of the foods slated to be on the menu include bacon wrapped corn dogs, red velvet funnel cake, pizza on a stick, the London broil, and an Indiana-style cookhouse that will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner.
When it comes to rides, visitors can expect 90 rides on the midway. New for this year will be the Hyper Loop 360.
Bast provides around 30 of the carnival rides through his company, Hildebrand Rides. He says the fair also partners with carnival ride providers including, but not limited to, Modern Midways, Michael's Amusements and Deggeller Attractions. Together, the group brings outstanding rides, games and novelties to the midway.
“We've had first-class game operations with no complaints,” says Bast. “Last year we featured 66 rides, this year we will have 90. We will offer first-class rides, games and food; we picked the best of the best.”
The 2018 event also marks the first time extensive music will be featured at Broward County Fair and the music lineup will consist of 25 tribute bands.
“These bands look, act, rock and sound like the real thing,” says Bast, expressing his enthusiasm for the lineup. Some of the tribute bands will play hits by Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Eagles, Katy Perry, No Doubt and Led Zeppelin.
Advertising & Technology Crucial in Fair Growth
Bast says that Broward County Fair advertising, combined with sponsorships, totals around $1 million and has been very successful.
“We work with sponsorships and ads on TV, Comcast spots, local news, buses, billboards, bus stop ads,” says Bast.
“Domino's Pizza features coupons on every pizza box for the fair at all their local locations. Our largest ad campaign is featured through iHeartRadio and we also have a sponsorship from the Sun Sentinel. All our sponsors really stepped up this year,” Bast continues. “We have been working on marketing for this year's fair since the end of last year's fair.”
Another great way of additionally spreading the word has been through utilizing technology. The organization has taken advantage of using Geofencing and social media. Geofencing is a service that allows an app or other software to trigger a per-programmed action when a device such as a cell phone enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location. Geofences can set off things such as push notifications, send targeted advertisements on social media, send text messages and alerts, or deliver specific marketing data.
In the case of Broward County Fair, Bast says Geofencing will allow people to receive messages that direct them to the website where they have the opportunity to take advantage of perks such as advance sales tickets. They also have access to special bar codes that will allow them to use a 'fast pass' to bypass waiting lines.
Admission for the 2018 Broward County Fair will be $10 for fast pass. Visitors can also purchase all ride access for $30.