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Carnival & Fair News
Carnival & Fair News
Miami Dade County Fair down 21 Percent
Bridge collapse nearby hurts attendance
Monday, April 23, 2018
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The 2018 Miami Dade County Fair and Exposition featured new entertainment and a new pricing structure for concerts. Locally known as the “Youth Fair,” the focus of this year’s event was providing a fun time for the community while raising money for their scholarship program.

Claudia Hernandez-Maltes, Director of Marketing and Entertainment at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition, was very happy with the success of the 2018 edition of the fair. Attendance was down about 21% from 2017; about 457,000 people attended the fair this year. “We had great weather this year so we’re studying, researching, and doing our due diligence to get more information about why our attendance was down,” says Hernandez-Maltes.

The 2018 Miami Dade County Fair and Exposition ran for 21 days March 15th-April 8th and was closed March 19-20 and April 2-3. Admission tickets were $14 for people ages 46-64; children 5 and under are free and those aged “65 and better” are also free. Hernandez-Maltes says that the fair offered myriad opportunities for people to enjoy the fair affordably. On opening day, admission was only $7. Every Wednesday the fair honored military men and women as well as first responders by admitting them into the fair free. On March 26th the Miami Dade County Fair partnered with local Boy and Girl Scout Troops for Boy and Girl Scouts free day. College students got in free with a student ID on March 21st.

According to Hernandez-Maltes the community is more of a late crowd. To encourage earlier attendance, the fair offered $7 admission Monday-Thursday before 6m. The fair also offered advance sale discounted tickets through their website. Flash sale promotions began as early as Thanksgiving.

The fair tried a new concert structure this year featuring a new act every Friday and Saturday night. For the first time this year, they included a concert focused on the regional Mexican genre. Some of the concerts this year were performed by Genuine and the Sugar Hill Gang, TLC and Nelly, and a battle of the DJs. When asked which concert was the most popular, Hernandez-Malts felt that TLC and Nelly had the best crowd. Standing room tickets for the concerts was included with admission. For the first time this year the fair charged $10-$25 for seated tickets. “We did well for the first year, we want to make sure we continue to educate the community about the new pricing,” says Hernandez-Maltes.

The Main Street Stage at the fair featured two new acts: an acrobatic act called Dance of the Ethiopians and an acapella group called Kazual. There were several strolling acts throughout the fairgrounds including: The Walking Tree of Life, Robo Cars, Fritters, and Light Up The Night Robots. Arnold Hall on the fairgrounds showcased a 100 ton sand sculpture display.

North American Midway entertainment (NAME) provides the rides for the Miami Dade County Fair and Exposition. Hernandez-Maltes says they normally bring about 100 rides to the fairgrounds; this year, they brought 98. Four new rides were featured on the midway this year: the Hyper Loop, the Hard Rock, the Wiggle Worm, and the Frog Hopper.

The Fair Foodie Award is designed to honor a new and creative food item each year of the fair. Three judges come to the fairgrounds and choose between 8 finalists to give out the award. Some of the finalists included: the chocolate covered strawberry waffle bombs, the raspberry creme funnel cake, and the “way better” strawberry milkshake. “The judges absolutely loved the way better strawberry milkshake,” says Hernandez-Maltes. The “Best Tasting” award went to the raspberry creme funnel cake and the “Most Unique” award went to the way better strawberry milkshake.

On the Miami-Dade Fairgrounds, there are plenty of indoor places to shop and look around. The Marketplace houses all the far’s business vendors; “you can find anything from mattresses to candles,” says Hernandez-Maltes. Arnold Hall housed 63,000 student art entries. Students could enter their art in almost any category imaginable. Hernandez-Maltes says the student artwork entries are always pretty robust. This year’s entry numbers were about the same as last year’s.

This year, the fair fell during Easter; so, the fair team made sure there were plenty of ways for families to celebrate the holiday. There was an Easter egg hunt throughout the fairgrounds and the Easter bunny was available for photos from 1pm-3pm that day. At 4pm, there was an Easter parade throughout the fairgrounds. Samba dancers in colorful costumes were featured in the parade and a popular local DJ served as the Grand Marshall.

The Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition has an advertising budget of about $800,000. The budget is spent on all the traditional media including: television, radio, outdoor, social media, and banners. The fair also has a newsletter with over 52,000 subscribers which they utilize to advertise the fair. Hernandez-Maltes says that the budget has to be carefully allocated; “we have to do everything in Spanish as well. Bilingual advertisements are necessary,” she says.

The goal of the fair is to give back to the community, mainly through scholarships. Last year, the fair was able to give out $530,000 in scholarships. Since its inception, the fair has distributed over $11 Million in scholarships.

One of the fair’s neighbors, Florida International University (FIU) experienced a tragedy on the opening day of the 2018 Miami-Dade County Fair when a new pedestrian bridge collapsed. “Unfortunately, that accident happened right next to us,” says Hernandez-Malts. In order to be a good neighbor and demonstrate community spirit, The MIami Date County Fair and Exposition teamed up with the Miami Foundation Fund to create a donation fund for the accident’s victims. The fair pledged $25,000 to begin the fund.

About 40 full time employees work for the fair which is governed by a CEO and a board of directors. When the fair is not going on, the employees focus on booking events throughout the fairgrounds. “Outside of fair-time, our events bring another 350,000 people to the fairgrounds,” says Hernandez-Maltes.

The 68th Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition will be March 14th-April 7th.

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