Part three of our series on creating a Program of Work highlights how to make the most of your county fair. Read on to learn how your county can get more involved.

How to Take Your County Fair Event Beyond the Booth
It’s cold and wintery when you’re planning your POW, but don’t forget to look ahead and plan for sunnier days. County fairs are a great time for a Farm Bureau activity —- everyone takes a break from the hay fields to come to town, kids prepare for show time and are excited to show off their hard work. It’s a natural fit for your county to be involved in the local fair, but having the same ol’ booth every year requires lots of volunteer time and is—quite frankly—boring.

Guidelines for a Farm Bureau Fair Event

[caption id="attachment_7839" align="alignright" width="300"] Rosebud Treasure County Farm Bureau members are active at their county fair. Contact us for resources and materials to share at your county fair.[/caption]

A fair booth is a great place to start, but don’t be afraid to evolve from there. Booths pose their own challenges; they require volunteer time every day, all day. It can be difficult to organize enough volunteers to run a booth. We suggest using these guidelines to explore other options;

  • Identify interests of the volunteers: If volunteers are excited about an idea they’re more likely to follow through and help pull it off.

  • Get the fair schedule early: It’s a good idea to identify where down time already exists during fair week. What better way to fill that slot than with a Farm Bureau event?

  • Visit with the local fair board, Extension Agent, etc.: They likely have great insights and ideas for activities or events. Your county Farm Bureau may be able to tackle the event for them or propose a new one.

Farm Bureau Event Planning Outside the Box

County fairs offer tons of exposure for your county Farm Bureau. The options are endless because you have the ability to draw from a diverse audience. You can offer agriculture specific seminars to the farm and ranch crowd or host an educational event for people from town. Here are a few ideas to get the brainstorming started:

  • [caption id="attachment_7841" align="alignright" width="300"] Chouteau County Farm Bureau helps sponsor portions of the county fair to support the future leaders of our agriculture community, and increase their visibility in the community.[/caption]

    YF&R Social: A common event in the Farm Bureau world and hopefully something you have done before. For example, if you county fair includes a rodeo; host a YF&R social before and raffle off some tickets.

  • Concert: Know some local talent? This event is appealing to everyone and family friendly. Depending on the size of your concert, this event may require fewer volunteer hours.

  • Breakfast at the Fair: Instead of hosting a Breakfast on the Farm, take advantage of the livestock already in town and the people already attending. Host a breakfast, open to the public, and provide a guided tour through each livestock barn. It’s a great way to teach others about agriculture and also showcase the local 4-H and FFA programs.

  • Seminars: There’s usually always some down time during the fair schedule. It’s a great opportunity to provide a producer seminar. What about a livestock handling demonstration, a Quality Assurance training or hot issues roundtable discussion?

  • Scavenger hunt: a great idea for kids, the time investment is flexible and only a small amount of volunteer time is needed. Take a look at this example organized by the Fulton County Farm Bureau in Rochester, Indiana.

  • Signage and Sponsorships: If you just don’t have volunteer power to commit to an event or booth at your county fair that’s OK too. There are still options. Find out what awards you can sponsor. County fairs are always need sponsors for buckles, trophies, jackets, etc. Buy an item or animal at the auction. You can donate it back for re-sale, or use it as a raffle item at your county annual meeting. Just having your banner visible in or around the show ring provides visibility and creates a presence.

County fairs provide a great opportunity for your county Farm Bureau to take advantage of a crowd without having to do all of the leg work of getting them there! Most importantly, county fairs offer an opportunity to connect with, encourage and grow our next generation of agricultural leaders. Mix it up and add a new event to your POW this year!