Promotion Plan: Market a Business at County Fairs and State Fairs

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When crafting a promotion plan for county fairs and state fairs, it’s essential to recognize the unique appeal of these events. There’s nowhere quite like a county fair. In small towns across America, these gatherings often stand out as the highlight of the summer.

While they might be associated with rural farmers, their scope is much broader, offering more than just petting zoos and pie eating contests.

County fairs and state fairs are also crucial opportunities with which to extend your brand reach and connect with a diverse range of would-be customers.

Some business owners are understandably wary of getting involved in the fair circuit. After all, accounting apps might not feel like an easy sell when you’re competing with a glitzy Ferris wheel for attention.

But the truth is, there’s a spot at the fair for businesses of all shapes and sizes — you’ve just got to play to your strengths.

To help get you started, we’ve rounded up a few top tips that will enable you to make the most of your annual fair.

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County and State Fair Promotion Plan

For businesses eager to make an impact at the county fair, it’s essential to find the right engagement strategy.

The table below summarizes the top methods for promoting your brand at the fair, along with the expected investment and potential outreach. Use it to gauge which strategy aligns best with your business goals and budget.

Become a Web SponsorSecure a logo or brand mention on the fair's website.Enhance SEO; increase site traffic.
Get Your Name in PrintAdvertise in event programs widely read at fairs.Reach a targeted local audience.
Creative Ad SpaceSponsor items like parking barrels or picnic tables.Gain visibility in unique spaces.
Distribute MaterialsHand out promotional materials and engage with fairgoers.Direct marketing; brand visibility.
Sponsor an EventAssociate your brand with popular events like concerts or tournaments.High visibility; brand association with fun.
Become an EventMake your company name an event highlight.Maximum brand exposure; multifaceted promotions.
Donate an Auction ItemOffer goods/services for silent auctions.Low-cost brand recognition; goodwill generation.
Set Up a BoothDisplay or sell your products/services directly to attendees.Direct sales; product demonstration; engagement.
Do Some DecoratingEmbrace rural aesthetics and interactive elements in your booth.Attract more visitors; enhance brand presentation.
Play the PartEnsure staff aesthetics align with the fair's or your booth's theme.Cohesive branding; enhance visitor experience.
Give Out Free SamplesOffer tastes or trials of your products.Immediate feedback; potential sales conversion.
Engage ActivelyUse fun games or attractions to draw attention.Make booth memorable; increase foot traffic.
Plan AheadEquip your booth with modern necessities, e.g., card readers.Smooth operations; meet consumer expectations.
Keep Customers in the LoopUpdate existing customers about your fair presence.Generate buzz; attract familiar faces for support.
Work the CrowdHave identifiable team members actively engaging with attendees near your booth.Drive foot traffic; increase brand engagement.
Cater to ImpulseStock booth with affordable and easy-to-carry items for quick sales.Boost sales; attract budget-conscious fairgoers.
Push NewslettersEncourage attendees to join your mailing list instead of handing out easily discarded materials.Grow subscriber base; ongoing engagement.
Offer IncentivesProvide special deals or discounts in exchange for sign-ups or information.Improve conversion rates; incentivize engagement.
Follow UpEngage leads post-fair with tailored content or offers.Foster long-term relationships; capitalize on fair leads.

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1. Become a Web Sponsor

Becoming a web sponsor for events is a strategic move that many businesses overlook. By joining as a web sponsor, you not only get a valuable placement for your logo or brand mention on the fair’s website, but it also boosts your SEO, increasing your online visibility.

This can indirectly direct more visitors to your website, raising awareness about your offerings. Associating with well-known events can also lend credibility to your brand, showing potential customers that you are engaged and active in the community.

2. Get Your Name in Print

While digital media has taken the spotlight, there’s still a special charm to print media. Fairs stand as a testament to the power of print advertisements. Given that event programs are handed out and frequently consulted by attendees, placing an ad can put your brand front and center.

Even in this digital age, seeing a brand in a tangible format can make it feel more trustworthy. Investing in a print ad at the fair, therefore, could be your wildcard to attract a new segment of customers.

3. Get Creative with Ad Space

With county fairs always in need of financial backing, they’ve become quite innovative with their sponsorship offerings. Virtually any surface can become a canvas for your advertisement. Think beyond traditional banners.

Parking barrels, tractors, picnic tables, and even horse rings can be transformed into ad spaces. These unconventional spaces can catch the eye, making your advertisement more memorable.

Moreover, it shows your brand’s creativity and commitment to supporting local events, further endearing you to the community.

4. Distribute Materials

Deploying a street team at a county fair can be a game-changer for brands. This isn’t just about handing out fliers, but truly connecting with the attendees. Take this chance to introduce them to your brand in a personal and engaging manner.

However, avoid overwhelming people with too many materials. Instead, strike conversations, listen to their feedback, and ensure that your promotional materials find their way to genuinely interested individuals.

The human touch can make all the difference in converting a potential lead into a loyal customer.

5. Sponsor an Event

The fair’s daytime activities are delightful, but it’s the evening events that truly draw the crowds. Whether it’s a fun Cornhole tournament or the thrill of a demolition derby, these events captivate the audience.

Sponsoring one of these main attractions is a surefire way to amplify your brand’s presence. Not only will your company name be showcased prominently, but associating with such events can also position your brand as one of the major players in the community.

So, don’t hesitate! Reach out to fair organizers to explore these event sponsorship opportunities and make your brand the talk of the town.

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6. Become the Main Event

If you have the resources, why not transform your company into a central attraction at the fair? By turning your brand name into an event itself through sponsorship, your brand’s visibility skyrockets.

Your name gets prime placement across tickets, programs, digital platforms, and social media channels.

While the initial investment might seem steep, the exposure and branding benefits you receive, especially from a long-term perspective, are immense and can translate into a robust return on investment

7. Donate an Auction Item

Branding doesn’t always require grand gestures or hefty budgets. Even if you’re working with a modest budget, you can still carve out a niche for yourself at the fair.

Consider donating a product or service to the fair’s silent auction. Not only does this charitable act endear you to attendees, but every bid also reinforces your brand’s value, allowing you to cultivate potential lifelong customers, one bid at a time.

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8. Set Up a Table or Booth

A booth is a dynamic way to engage fairgoers. If your business offers tangible products or demonstrable services, a booth can be an excellent strategy. Especially for food businesses, this is your stage to shine!

Instead of presenting your entire repertoire, focus on a select range that represents your brand’s essence. By strategically selecting peak days and positioning your booth effectively, you can pique the interest of attendees, introducing them to the best you have to offer.

9. Do Some Decorating

True, county fairs ooze a rustic charm, with vibrant bunting, inflated balloons, and spirited banners. Instead of seeing these as clichés, embrace them. Incorporate traditional elements like bushel baskets filled with hay or quaint gingham patterns.

Add a twist with engaging activities or games, making your booth or area a must-visit spot. Such decor immerses fairgoers in the full experience, making them more receptive to your brand’s offerings.

10. Play the Part

A beautifully decorated booth will only shine if the people manning it resonate with its vibe. Ensure that you and your staff fully embrace the fair’s theme. If you’ve chosen a specific theme for your booth, ensure everyone’s attire aligns with it.

If not, classic fair attire will do the trick. Remember, authenticity is key. When you and your team truly embody the fair’s spirit, you create a magnetic atmosphere that draws attendees in and leaves a lasting impression.

11. Give Out Free Samples

If you deal in tangible products, let potential customers experience the magic firsthand. Distributing free samples might seem like a loss initially, but think of them as the bait that hooks potential customers.

These samples can pave the way for brand loyalty and transform your booth into an attraction. Plus, who doesn’t appreciate freebies? They’re a surefire way to get attendees talking about your brand.

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12. Engage, Engage, Engage

Offer more than just products – offer an experience. How about luring visitors with a classic ring toss, where product discounts await the victors?

It’s an excellent tactic to infuse a hint of the carnival spirit into your setup. This not only entertains but ensures your booth isn’t just another stall – it’s an experience that stands tall amidst competitors.

Here are some interactive engagement ideas:

  • Product Demonstrations: Showcase the value of your products through live demonstrations, allowing attendees to see the benefits firsthand.
  • Interactive Games: Host games related to your product or industry. For example, a kitchenware company could have a quick vegetable chopping contest.
  • Photo Opportunities: Create a themed photo booth with props related to your brand. Encourage visitors to share their photos on social media with your hashtag.
  • VR Experiences: If applicable, offer virtual reality experiences that relate to your products or services, providing an immersive way for attendees to engage with your brand.
  • Sampling Stations: For food and beverage companies, sampling stations are a great way to attract attendees and let them taste the quality of your products.
  • Customization Booths: Allow visitors to customize a small sample product. This could be engraving a name on a product or choosing ingredients for a custom snack mix.
  • Prize Wheels: Have a prize wheel with various rewards, from discounts to free products. This can attract a crowd and create excitement around your booth.
  • Educational Workshops: Offer short, informative sessions on topics related to your industry. This positions your brand as an expert and adds value to the visitor’s experience.

Implementing these tips and ideas can significantly enhance your fair participation experience, helping you achieve your promotional goals and making the event enjoyable and productive.

13. Plan Ahead

In today’s digital era, ensuring you have a dependable portable card reader is crucial. Even though county fairs exude a sense of time-honored tradition, many visitors have moved away from carrying cash.

Be prepared and anticipate your needs. Make sure to keep essentials such as price lists, detailed product information, and any backup stock close at hand.

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14. Keep Customers in the Loop

Engage with your loyal customers by informing them of your participation at the fair. Seeing familiar faces at your booth can create a ripple effect, drawing more attendees towards you.

Amplify your presence by announcing your attendance on social media, encouraging followers to save the date. For those subscribed to your company newsletter, craft a special edition highlighting your fair activities, ensuring they are reminded of your exciting offerings at the event

15. Work the Crowd

Merely setting up a booth or sponsoring an event doesn’t guarantee attention. Actively draw attendees in! While having interactive games is great, designate enthusiastic team members to mingle with the crowd, inviting them over.

Emphasize a warm, approachable demeanor. Spark conversations, intrigue the audience, and leverage entertainment to pull them towards your setup. After all, fairs are about merriment, so ensure your booth exudes a lively, fun-filled ambiance.

16. Cater to Impulse

When you’ve piqued the interest of fairgoers, capitalize on that impromptu urge to buy. Stock your booth with attractively-priced, easy-to-carry items that invite impulse purchases.

Deals like “buy-one-get-one-free” are particularly enticing in a fair environment where people are looking for quick grabs and bargains.

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17. Push Newsletters

Meanwhile, a sign-up sheet is also a brilliant way to get the most out of your county fair presence. Families passing by will usually be clinging onto quite a few things already – meaning your business cards and cumbersome fliers will probably end up getting tossed in the bin twenty feet away. Instead, simply ask people if they’d like to join your mailing list.

18. Offer Incentives

Engaging potential consumers often requires a little more than just a friendly chat. To truly capture their attention, and more importantly, their contact information, you might need to offer them something in return.

Consider giving away unique promotions or exclusive discounts as a thank-you for their sign-up. This gesture not only makes them feel valued but also increases the likelihood of them engaging with your brand in the future.

19. Follow Up

After the fun of the fair, it’s essential to nurture the connections you made. If you’ve successfully added new subscribers to your mailing list, create a tailored follow-up communication that caters specifically to them.

Discuss shared experiences from the fair, highlight special offers, or suggest products that align with their interests. This personal touch can foster a lasting relationship and increase the chance of conversions.

20. Have Fun

Embrace the carnival spirit! County fairs aren’t just business hubs; they’re kaleidoscopes of color, sound, and excitement. So, once you’ve pitched your products and chatted up potential clients, let your hair down!

Dive into that mountain of cotton candy, groove like nobody’s watching to the live bands, challenge yourself at the game booths, or even take a ride or two.

Fairs are about joy, laughter, and moments of spontaneous fun. Remember to savor every second, because it’s not just about making sales, but making memories too!

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Tips for First-Timers

Venturing into the world of county and state fairs as a promotional platform can be both exciting and daunting for first-time participants. Here are some essential tips to help you navigate this new experience effectively:

  • Start Small: If it’s your first time participating in a fair, consider starting with smaller, local fairs. They are usually more cost-effective and provide a great testing ground to understand what works best for your business.
  • Set Clear Objectives: Determine what you want to achieve through your participation. Whether it’s brand awareness, lead generation, or direct sales, having clear goals will guide your efforts and help measure success.
  • Budget Wisely: Factor in all possible expenses, including booth rental, marketing materials, staffing, and product samples. Always have a contingency budget for unexpected costs.
  • Engage Your Team: Make sure your team is well-prepared and enthusiastic. Their energy and engagement can significantly impact the success of your participation.
  • Know Your Audience: Research the typical fair attendees and tailor your offerings and messaging to meet their interests and needs.
  • Prepare Your Pitch: Have a concise and compelling pitch ready to grab visitors’ attention. Practice with your team to ensure consistency and confidence in delivery.
  • Follow-Up Plan: Collect contact information and have a follow-up plan in place to reach out to potential leads after the fair.

Fair Selection Guide

Choosing the right fair for your business is crucial to ensuring your investment pays off. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision:

  • Demographics: Research the typical demographic of fair attendees. Ensure there’s a good match between the fair audience and your target market.
  • Size and Scope: Consider the size of the fair and the type of exhibits it usually features. Larger fairs may offer more exposure but can also mean more competition.
  • Location: The fair’s location should be accessible to your target audience. Also, consider logistical aspects such as travel time, accommodation, and transportation of materials.
  • Cost: Evaluate the cost of participation, including booth rental, utilities, and any additional fees. Ensure the potential ROI justifies the expense.
  • Past Success Stories: Look for testimonials or case studies from previous participants. Learning about their experiences can provide valuable insights into what to expect.
  • Theme and Activities: Some fairs may have specific themes or focus areas. Choose a fair that aligns with your brand and products.
  • Vendor Support: Assess the level of support and resources the fair organizers provide to vendors. Good organizational support can make a significant difference in your experience.

Key Takeaways for Maximizing Your Promotion Plan at County Fairs and State Fairs:

  • Diverse Engagement Options: From sponsoring events to simply enjoying the fair, there’s a strategy suitable for every budget and goal.
  • Digital vs. Traditional: Blend online promotions like web sponsorships with traditional methods such as printed ads or booths.
  • Visual Impact: Use creative ad spaces and decorative booths to make a lasting visual impression on fairgoers.
  • Direct Interaction: Engage directly with attendees by distributing materials, giving out free samples, or simply working the crowd.
  • Leverage Events: Sponsor, become, or even create events that align with your brand for maximum exposure.
  • Strategic Planning: Ensure you have the necessary logistics like card readers and product specifications ready. Plan and inform your existing customers in advance.
  • Post-Fair Engagement: It’s crucial to follow up with the leads you gather during the fair to foster long-term relationships.
  • Remember the Spirit of the Fair: Embrace the fair’s atmosphere, dress the part, and enjoy the event. It’s as much about community as it is about business.


Ticket BoothCandy ApplesSwineFair Ride Photos via Shutterstock

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Nash Riggins Nash Riggins is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and an American journalist based in central Scotland. Nash covers industry studies, emerging trends and general business developments. His writing background includes The Huffington Post, World Finance and GuruFocus. His website is