3 Things Event Profs Can Learn From Fairs

By Hayley Panagakis, March 3, 2017

Atlanta Fair fairsThere’s something about fairs that keeps us coming back year after year. Working in the events industry, I’ve seen a lot of creative, jaw-dropping ideas (like here, here and here) crafted by inspiring planners. But last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the annual Atlanta Fair (FYI, it’s happening through April 2 if you are planning to be in ATL soon!), and it reminded me of the importance of sticking to basics. Fairs are simple, and their mission is clear: Provide attendees with good, clean fun. Here are three reasons why sticking to simplicity can enhance the attendee experience.

1. Attendees want to indulge.

I love the elaborate (and delicious) F&B I’ve tasted at events. But if your budget is tight, worry less about ornate presentations and care more about what your attendees want to eat (a good idea, regardless). Junk food like pizza, corn dogs and funnel cake might sound cliche, but there’s a reason they’re staples at fairs year after year. People want to indulge when they’re away from home for a conference, so give them the opportunity to. Of course, provide a range of options and choices for those who prefer a healthier selection or have dietary restrictions.

 2. Everyone seeks thrills.

Attendees need to experience adventure throughout your event. Fairs are masters of this—whether it’s taking a peaceful ride on the Ferris wheel or testing equilibrium on the Gravitron (my personal fave). Excite your guests with a morning hike, a surprise celebrity keynote or a lively teambuilding experience. Also choose speakers who aren’t talking heads, but get people on their feet and engaged.

 3. Nostalgia is king.

It’s safe to say fairs will always be a part of American culture—I have fond memories of my parents taking me as a kid, and I hope to one day do the same with my own (when I have them, that is). Find ways to play into attendees’ childhoods, whether it be a brightly colored room design or a candy-themed room drop. Also, make sure your event is one attendees will long for. Ask yourself, “What can attendees look forward to at my event year after year?”

  • This has been a pleasant read. Since I run an event management software company called EventsCase, I do know how the basics can always mean the most in good event design. As you pointed out through the article, simple concepts like attendees needing to indulge and seeking thrills could be the recipe of a successful event. Organisers should continually listen to what their audience wants and look for ways to increase engagement.

  • brynninthecity

    These are all good points, and I think the last one about nostalgia is one that most people might not automatically think of! Thanks for sharing.

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