Strong partnerships can make a successful fair

A strong fair is created by establishing strong partnerships.

It is often thought that 4-H and the Fairboard have conflicting goals when it comes to putting on a fair in the community. Both sides are very passionate about their cause and points of contention can occur. However, what if someone was to take a deeper look at the goals set by each side?

According to Michigan State University Extension, county fairs have many goals when putting together the events.  It is important to get people in the gate, service the community with good, safe fun, provide education for the public and for the participants at the fair as well as accomplish other goals.  In order to complete this heavy task they have to fulfill many other obligations along the way including:

  • Hiring a carnival that is safe and fun, but also cost effective.
  • Keeping the vendors happy and making sure they are providing safe products to the fairgoers.
  • Make sure that the youth and adults that bring in the projects for display come through with the finished product and are treated fairly and equally during the judging process.

4-H programs may also have many goals they would like to accomplish each year through the fair process. 4-H wants to educate the youth and public.  They want their 4-H families to have fun while being in a safe environment. They want them to have a place to come together as a team, or larger family, to teach valuable life skills.  In addition, they want the youth to be treated fair and equal during the entire week of fair. It is also important for the 4-H’ers to have people come to the fair to make it successful, for the vendors to be happy and want to return each year, for the fair to be clean, and maintain a safe and fun atmosphere. 

In truth the goals of a fair-board and a 4-H program are in line with each other. They may prioritize them differently but the success of the fair depends on all of their goals being met. Both the fair-board and 4-H programs have so many people depending on them and the shows they put together. Making everyone happy is a daunting task, however, if they work together to get to the end goals the fair will be stronger and a lot more successful.  If a community feels that they have stake in the fair they will care more about how it turns out.  The 4-H families are from the communities and can be strong advocates for getting the work done, providing fun and safe events, promotion, and providing a great unified community feeling for your local fair.  At the same time a fair-board can be useful to the 4-H program by running unbiased and objective events, providing a safe environment and bringing in an outside perspective.

Whenever more than one group feels passionate about an event they should sit down and come up with a list of goals that fit each of their needs. The groups can then prioritize those goals and decide which ones neither can live without.  Most likely they will have a lot of the same goals and can modify their own list to incorporate the “can’t live without” ones they did not have. Working together from the start and realizing that they are not entirely different will make the event stronger and the planning stages much easier, and more enjoyable to be a part of.

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