Wyo State Fair attends convention, begins planning for 102nd fair in 2014Written by Saige Albert
Casper – Following the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs (RMAF) Convention, held on Nov. 13-16, Wyoming State Fair Director James Goodrich noted, “It was a really good event, and we had attendance from all over the region.”
The event hosted county and state fair representatives from 11 states throughout the Rocky Mountain region and in Canada.
“This convention was an all-encompassing event that looked at every aspect of the fair business,” said Goodrich. “It is a scaled-down version of the International Association of Fairs Exposition.”
Attending the RMAF Convention is important for both the Wyoming State Fair and the region’s events.
“One of the big components of the convention is the entertainment and attractions showcasing,” said Goodrich.
The showcase provides the opportunity for fair planners to visit with entertainers, see what is new and determine whether the act fits their event.
“The event showcase is a big part of the RMAF convention,” he added. “We have used these showcases for about 50 percent of our free stage acts, strolling acts and kid’s attractions.”
The remainder of Wyoming State Fair’s event planning comes from the International Association of Fairs Exposition and from local referrals.
The convention, Goodrich mentioned, also provide an important opportunity for networking.
“The networking portion of the event is very important,” he said. “It is important to get to know people in the business and the region, so we have someone that we can talk to about ideas, events and news within the business.”
Educational activities, meetings and interactive discussions provide an additional benefit to the event.
Goodrich recognized that the event will be beneficial for Wyoming’s State Fair for many reasons.
“We had a good rodeo panel discussion during the meeting,” he said. “We are going to look at some of the things we are doing with our rodeo, based on those discussions.”
He also noted that the discussions on hiring entertainment were important and helpful.
“There was some good information that we will probably use,” he said.
On Nov. 18, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead visited the Wyoming State Fairgrounds for an update on current projects and to look toward the future.
Goodrich adds that the visit was beneficial. While more time to visit more sites would have been ideal, the group enjoyed the chance to tour projects being finished across the grounds.
“We hit those spots to address the needs and concerns that have been expressed by our staff, attendees and exhibitors,” Goodrich says. “We also touched slightly on future planning.”
He further notes that they have also begun long range planning efforts.
“We identified that we need to update our long-range plan and start looking at where those needs will be in the next few years,” he says.
For the 2014 event, Goodrich comments that they have already begun working on options to improve the Wyoming State Fair.
“We have been working on making changes that we need to in the schedule,” he says. “We’ve been working on getting our 2013 fair wrapped up, getting the premiums paid and awards distributed.”
The Wyoming State Fair staff has also worked to fine tune the schedule and concentrate on establishing a strong lineup of children and family entertainment for the fair.
At the same time, Goodrich adds that they are working to line up the entertainment.
“We plan to announce our highlighted entertainment by the end of this year,” he says. “We’re looking ahead to 2014 and excited for it.”
South Koreans provide insight on WSFWritten by Saige Albert
“They are interested in expanding the coverage of their event and are looking at what we are doing with sponsorship, legislations and governance,” commented International Association of Fairs and Expositions President and CEO Jim Tucker. “They are also looking to see if they can create a continuing exchange of information on an international level.”
Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Jason Fearneyhough visited Seoul, South Korea earlier this year on a trade mission with the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association and Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
“While we were there, I had an opportunity to visit with this group about the fair industry in Wyoming,” Fearneyhough said, adding that the group decided to visit Wyoming to learn more about state support of the event.
Tucker added, “The interest in the Wyoming State Fair is prompted in large part by Jason’s contact with the Koreans.”
“I would like to improve the quality of the festival and get new ideas,” added Park Dong-chell, mayor of Geumsan, South Korea of the city’s ginseng festival. “We chose the Wyoming State Fair as it is the fair with the strongest state government support.”
Dong-chell said of their trips, “We came over and looked around, especially at the fairgrounds and the facilities here. We also checked out new programs and the agricultural program here.”
Dong-chell expressed particular interest in youth involvement at the Wyoming State Fair, as well as the opportunity for agriculture education.
“This kind of festival gives a lot of opportunity for the family as an agricultural education exchange,” commented Dong-chell. “If people live in urban areas, they might not know about agriculture. This is an excellent place to exhibit what agriculture life looks like.”
However, Dong-chell marked the most important aspect of the Wyoming State Fair as the involvement of the state government and the immense support for the fair.
“They have a strong interest in a fair that has the kind of support from around the state and the state legislature, the commitment that Wyoming has made to this fair and the longstanding history the fair has in this state,” said Tucker.
Another striking difference when Wyoming’s State Fair is contrasted to South Korean festivals, Dong-chell noted the diverse array of products featured at the Wyoming State Fair.
“Korean agriculture festivals focus on one item or one product – the ginseng festival, apple festival or strawberry festival, for example,” he explained. “The fair systems cover all agriculture items.”
Individual festivals focusing on single agriculture product creates opposition, he continued. Farmers cite competition and see their products, though not highlighted at that specific festival, are important as well.
“I have been thinking about the fair system and introducing an American fair system covering all agriculture products,” he added.
South Korea’s Ginseng Festival
“The Ginseng Festival is a 32-year-old festival, and it stimulates the ginseng industry in the city,” explained Dong-chell. “It is a very important festival for their economy.”
During the course of their 10-day agriculture festival, more than 1 million visitors attend the festival. The festival is also economically important to both the city of Guemsan and the ginseng industry. Of the city’s 60,000 people, 20,000 participate in the festival to market $80 million of ginseng.
“A great percentage of the population participates,” explains Dong-chell. “It is a really good chance for unity.”
Unity and economics
Tucker emphasized that festivals have strongly supported South Korea’s overall economy.
“The ginseng festival is 32 years old,” he noted. “In the 1950s, South Korea was a war torn country, and a part of the effort by government in that country is to rebuild community to build the feelings of the populations and to help them move forward.”
Over the same time period, Tucker added the South Korea’s economy has built from being equivalent to the poorest African countries to an average domestic product that exceeds that of the European Union.
“It is the most significant increase in economic activity in the history of mankind,” Tucker said of the more than 850 festivals the country holds.
“With 850 festivals in South Korea attended by large numbers of people, it reminds us that we have a long tradition and a long legacy of fairs,” he continued. “Their festivals get together to share the sense of community that has been built, and it has really been a reinforcement to those of us who think an awful lot about agriculture education and may forget how important the state fair is in terms of how it brings us close together.”
“We are all doing the same thing – promoting agriculture,” Tucker commented.
Wyoming State Fair on its way to 100th celebrationWritten by Saige Albert
“We will have raised $112.088.62 so far from the buckles, pins and bracelets sold, as well as some boot money, one steer sold and some various auction items,” says WSF deputy director Vicki Rupert.
A donation from EnCana, Oil and Gas helped put the committee over the mark to receive matching funds from the Wyoming Legislature. Matching funds will continue up to $250,000.
“We are very excited about breaking the $100,000 mark,” says Rupert.
As fundraising continues, buckle, pin and bracelet sets numbered six through 10 have been auctioned at various events around the state, including the Wyoming Wool Growers Association Convention and the Wyoming Stock Growers Winter Roundup, raising additional funds for the group. Sets one through five will be sold at special events as well.
Because only 150 belt buckles and 1,000 pins and bracelets will be produced, the committee encourages anyone interested to contact the WSF. Also available are two styles of boots with the WSF logo. Cash donations toward the event are accepted as well.
James Goodrich, director of the WSF, says that four concerts are planned for the event, and while offers are out, they have not confirmed the performers.
Since 1905, the WSF has been held in Douglas after a legislative appropriation granted fund for facilities, premiums and expenses. The event, however, has ties back to 1886 with an event called the First Annual Wyoming Territorial Fair.
With just over seven months before the big event, preparations and fundraising efforts continue for what is sure to be a event worth attending.
Mark your calendars to attend State Fair 2012, Aug. 11–18 in Douglas.
Wyoming State Fair continues planning, addresses challenges for the 100th year celebrationWritten by Saige Albert
With a bigger event, more people, more entertainment and great excitement about the 100th year of the Wyoming State Fair, there are also a number of new challenges presenting themselves.
“The biggest challenge we face is truly to go to this greater level of magnitude and not have any more infrastructure,” says Goodrich. “This is a huge step.”
He adds that, in particular, parking and lodging will be difficult.
“Our lodging situation in Douglas is very tight,” he notes, “and it has gotten tighter with people anticipating the 100th.”
The WSF is planning to approach Casper lodging properties about sending overflow requests to Casper, due to the large demand for rooms the fairgrounds has received.
Additionally, in anticipation of a large number of guests who will travel from Casper, Goodrich adds that the State Fair will looking at opportunities for mass transit.
“We have talked about charter transportation or mass transportation on a regular basis from the Casper area to Douglas, particularly on entertainment nights or rodeo days,” says Goodrich. “We are going to manage parking better, as well.”
Fundraising for the big event has gone well, according to Goodrich, who notes commemorative items and building naming as of top interest in fundraising endeavors.
“The buckles are nearly two-thirds gone,” he says. “Pins and bracelets are still available, as well. I think we will see another big push as we get closer to fair time, as well.”
As for the first 10 numbered sets, Goodrich says only one through five are left, with five planning on going for auction during the UW Alumni Association event, and the first two sets being sold at auction during fair week.
Another big fundraising endeavor that WSF has undertaken is the opportunity to feature a company name on various buildings across the grounds.
“We started with seven structures or areas for naming, and we have two left,” Goodrich comments. “The equine center and the silver arena are the only ones left.”
As part of the purchase of structures, companies enter into a three-year contract with exclusive signage and the opportunity to be named in all schedules and advertisements. The cost of the contracts varies, based on the structure or arena.
Featured county displays
“One of the early goals of the planning committee was county displays,” Goodrich comments. “We are in the process of visiting every county fair board meeting this spring to ask for and encourage their participation.”
Goodrich notes, however, that the responsibility doesn’t solely lie in the hands of county fair boards – chambers of commerce or county tourism boards may also be involved.
“We are encouraging a group effort from the counties,” he says, “and while we want the focus to be on agriculture, it doesn’t have to be. The displays can focus on tourism, industry, mining or whatever a county chooses to showcase.”
County displays will be showcased in a large tent on the grounds.
Other additional aspects of the 2012 WSF will include a youth alpaca show and increased area for commercial exhibits.
With the event growing continually closer, Goodrich says, “We’re spending a lot of time on planning now.”
State Fair 2012 schedule
“The lineup is all pretty much the same,” says Wyoming State Fair Director James Goodrich of the upcoming 2012 Wyoming State Fair, with youth and open shows maintaining a consistent schedule compared to past years. “We have to put on a fair again in 2013.”
This year’s fair will feature lots of entertainment, including four concerts, a ranch rodeo and three nights of PRCA Rodeo. Check out a brief schedule of big evening events below:
Sunday, Aug. 12 – Ranch Rodeo and Western Underground in concert
Tuesday, Aug. 14 – The Guess Who in concert
Wednesday, Aug. 15 – Dierks Bentley in concert
Thursday, Aug. 16 – PRCA Rodeo
Friday, Aug. 16– PRCA Rodeo and Miss Rodeo Wyoming Coronation
Saturday, Aug. 17 – Western Underground in concert
Fundraising continues for 100th Wyoming State FairWritten by Saige
Douglas – Nearly $100,000 has been raised toward the goal of $500,000 for the 2012 Wyoming State Fair.
The 2012 event marks 100 years of the event and promises to be packed with special events and improvements to the state fairgrounds.
A grant by the state of Wyoming provides matching funds when the $100,000 fundraising goal is reached, and matching dollars continue up to $250,000.
Individuals have the opportunity to help in fundraising efforts by purchasing any of several commemorative items.
Heritage pins and bracelets are now available, giving purchasers admission to the Wyoming State Fair for 100 years and these items are transferrable. A limited number of only 1,000 pins and bracelets will be produced, and each is individually numbered. The purchase of a heritage pin or bracelet also grants admission to a special event and grandstand events (excluding concerts) during the 2012 state fair. Heritage pins and bracelets are available for only $250.
By contributing a hundred year steer with the one-time cost of a steer calf or yearling steer or $750 cash, contributors receive all the benefits of pin or bracelet purchase, as well as recognition on the 100th Wyoming State Fair Monument and the chance to win a commemorative saddle, as well as a buckle. Only 150 buckles will be produced, making the item a collectible.
By purchasing all three items, the Wyoming State Fair will give the purchaser the opportunity to choose the number for all three items, completing a 100th State Fair collector’s set.
Additionally, the first 10 numbered bracelets, pins and buckles will be sold at auction to the highest bidder.
Two styles of boots will also be sold to commemorate the 100th Wyoming State Fair, available for $495 a pair. Boots feature an embroidered logo and are available in two colors.
With the upcoming holiday season, any one of the commemorative items is a great gift idea for your friends and family that enjoy attending state fair every year, says the committee.
Photos of all items are available at wystatefair.com.
Contributions will be used to finance special commemorative awards for youth and adult exhibitors, an illustrated commemorative book as well as permanent improvements to the grounds. Fundraising efforts will also go toward providing special events and attractions for the 100th Wyoming State Fair.
While fundraising constrains the events that will be held, the committee has discussed adding a number of special attractions to the 100th state fair celebration events. Ideas include providing an additional concert featuring a rock n’ roll band, additional contests and displays from each county in the state.
The theme for the 100th Wyoming State Fair is “Times Change, Traditions Remain,” and fundraising efforts provide the unique opportunity for contributors to be an integral part of the celebration.