Virtual Fairs - Tips to Get Started

When the coronavirus made it impossible for our beloved fairs and festivals to go on as planned, it became obvious that flexible and creative solutions would be necessary. The Virtual County Fair was born out of this necessity. These virtual fairs are coming in a variety of looks. Virtual Competitions, Drive-Thru food experiences, individual visits to the fairgrounds, watching concerts or performances virtually, or attempting to recreate fair experiences at home. Grandstand Apps has been able to help provide tools for our clients who are stretching their creativity to reach those who are missing the fair experience.

For some, fairs are focusing on their youngest participants: 4-H and FFA. Many county fairs and 4-H programs that we work with are using a method of uploading photos and displaying them for all to see. As a result, the use of digital projects became a key ingredient in setting up a new way of experiencing the fair. Competitors can upload images of their projects for judging and displaying using the survey tool. In addition, if you are using third-party tools like FlipGrid, you can provide links directly from the app to help participants easily access information.

Schedules for livestock shows & amended competitions

If your fair is doing a hybrid approach, as many have chosen, it means some competitions & livestock shows remain on the in-person schedule. These schedules are changing, keep your participants up to date with the latest in load-in times, show times, and more with a schedule for your fair. As you edit the dates & times note on the title of the event “EDITED” or something similar. Include any links to pre-registration info and edit the info regularly to keep the instruction current.

Pages with links to virtual presentations

For those events that are virtual only, you might include the links to the live videos, or if they are pre-recorded, integrate the YouTube video directly in the app. A page of videos or links to videos will help your participants and their families & friends access their entries more easily. Organizing the information for your participants is key in encouraging engagement.

Maps are important to show flow and restricted/amended areas of contact

As changes are being made to the fair grounds itself, flow for the shows and ares of contact will certainly be changed as well. As this happens, maps will be important. If you have a map of your grounds that is drawn to scale and shows how these flows have changed, share them with us and we can place it right over the native maps in the app. So your pins for locations stay in place. We can also add info to the map pins themselves sharing changes that have happened as a result of making room for distancing.

3-D imaging of areas or booths

We have found other technologies that integrate well with Grandstand’s apps. One such tool is Matterport, a spatial data company focused on digitizing and indexing the built world. Basically that means you take their camera equipment or your iPhone and take digital photos of a space. The software then creates a 3-D image of the area. Think those virtual open houses of new homes you might view. We can integrate these 3-D images into Grandstand to allow a new way for your visitors to see your fair! Create virtual scavenger hunts through your grounds and many more fun ways to use the spaces. Or if you do have booths set up, allow those stuck at home a way to browse through the displayed entries.

See our recent article on how to integrate Matterport into your page on our Blog.

virtual events using tools to share info

The Sonoma-Marin Fair, in Petaluma, Calif., was an all-virtual fair this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. to continue to offer fair-related fun and activities for families, the fair came up with a schedule of activities to match the fair’s planned theme days. Grandstand used the schedule they provided to list each day:

  • Fair Play activity encouraging families to engage in board games at home
  • Fun @ Home, included instructions & videos to teach participants how to create balloon art (using kits that could be picked up at a drive-thru distribution on the fair grounds), scavenger hunts finding fair-related items in the home, coloring sheets, instructions on setting up a victory garden and a Farm Olympics to celebrate Farmer’s Day
  • Crafts, a different craft was led for each day related to the themes of games & “Fair Play”
  • Ag Showcase, information on a different company or organization (a great way to recognize your sponsors!) and a way for families to learn more about livestock and ag in general
  • Recipes, each day, a delicious fair-related recipe was shared based on the featured ag product for the day
  • Music, the fair partnered with Petaluma Live to share live music performances from local and national artists. Especially those who planned to perform at the fair. A video was integrated directly into the site with more info on how to reach the artists.
  • Contests, each day virtual submissions were gathered for contests at the fair with the winners announced on social media, the feeds integrated using Grandstand’s social media feed module.

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