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Grounds and Facilities, Fair, Festival or Event
by Marvin Perzee, Iroquois County Fair

Many county fairs work year round in preparing for their annual event. Thousands of volunteers across the state donate labor, equipment, and necessary resources in anticipation of opening day. When the gates open, we know that COMPANY IS COMING and that our appearance and the impression we create will dictate how many people will come and whether or not they will return. Let's make our company feel welcome by remembering the following:
  • "C" Construction of the grounds and facilities should be safe, efficient, and attractive. Much thought should be given to the layout and design of your grounds to accommodate the needs of your guests and to provide ample space for your traffic, exhibitors, and service providers.
  • "O" On-going maintenance and repair not only saves you money in the long run, but enables your association to better utilize volunteers. We do annual inspections and use check lists of what needs to be painted, repaired, or replaced. This is done prior to the fair and directly after.
  • "M" Manpower is an essential ingredient to the upkeep of your grounds and facilities. We have long enjoyed a good working relationship with our county 4-H clubs and trade facility use for manpower. 4-H members pledge their "hands" to larger service and many hands make light work. In addition to learning responsibility, our 4-H members take pride in the appearance of their county fairgrounds. We utilize the services of numerous other local civic and social organizations. In addition, we have the support of the Township Road Commissioner, County Board, and State Highway Department.
  • "P" Park benches and rest areas in strategically planned locations are an important factor to consider. Those with special needs, the elderly and young families, appreciate having a place to rest during their tour of the fair. Bul1letin boards and directional signs are also benefi cial. Scheduled activities and other announcements should be updated daily.
  • "A" Ample parking, in an organized manner, which recognizes the needs of the elderly and handicapped, is essential. Overnight guests appreciate camping accommodations, equipped with water and electricity. When space is limited, parking for campers must be carefully planned and policed.
  • "N" Necessary rooms, such as restrooms and showers, must be strategically placed, well equipped, and constantly maintained. Your guests deserve a clean and sanitary environment, and, if you want them to stay, you must provide it.
  • "Y" Yard and grounds upkeep on a year round basis attracts off-season rental. It also enhances the fair association's reputation. Flowerbeds, trees, and shrubbery add to the beauty of the grounds and tell our visitors that we want to make their stay more enjoyable.
  • "I" Investment is a key word to a fair association. A large sum of money is invested in your land, buildings and accommodations. The monetary investment is not as large as the investment of time, energy and dedication provided by volunteers. Volunteers are our greatest asset and help us produce the best fair possible while maintaining a good image and well-deserved reputation.
  • "S" Sanitation is imperative in all phases of the fair, whether it is the rest rooms, inside building cleanliness, livestock areas, manure disposal, insect control, garbage, or grounds clean-up. Be prepared and plan ahead. If anything can go wrong, it usually does during fair week.
  • "C" Command respect for your grounds and facilities. Insure that adequate security is maintained on a 24-hour basis during fair week. The Iroquois County Law Enforcement Association provides excellent assistance during the fair in exchange for the use of a sanctioned-shooting range in the back section of the fairgrounds and used off-season. Year round security is ongoing due to the State Police utilization of the shooting range. This arrangement has been benefi cial to their association as well as ours.
  • "O" Operate the building, maintenance, repair, and upkeep of your grounds and facilities as a business. It is a "BIG BUSINESS" and the success or failure of your operation depends upon the time and commitment you are willing to give. We use the talents of numerous retired individuals who enjoy working at the fairgrounds. They take great pride in their work. They mow and manicure the grounds, fi x and fi ddle and feel that they are as much a part of the fair as lemon shake-ups.
  • "M" Money making is crucial to the longevity of any not-for-profi t association, but we must also be mindful of the need to provide "People Pleasing" facilities on the grounds. Some buildings do not generate huge revenues during the fair, but the contents bring people through the front gate and a large attendance spells success.
  • "I" Initiate long range planning to meet your needs. Instill pride in your community for past accomplishments and impress upon all local civic, social, and governmental agencies how important it is to insure future growth. Incite enthusiasm in your ground and facility improvements, by generating interest and including everyone who makes a contribution. Press releases should be written to identify donations and recognize any volunteers involved. Remember, "I" is singular, and one person cannot be nearly as effective as an inspired team.
  • "N" Neatness is contagious. If your grounds are clean and well kept, visitors are less likely to litter. Provide ample receptacles for garbage. Schedule garbage and manure pick up at times that will not obstruct or interfere with your traffi c.
  • "G" Glitz, glamour, and glitter belong on the midway. Your buildings should be practical and constructed for multi-purpose use. Off-season rental is necessary to defray ever increasing operational costs. Uniformity in color and construction adds to the overall appearance of your fairgrounds.
In closing, keep in mind that "COMPANY IS COMING" and we want them to feel welcome. If our "house is in order" they will be comfortable, well fed, entertained, and educated. We would be remiss if we failed to recognize our dedicated fair board members, county 4-H leaders, and members, state, county, and local co-operating governmental agencies, media, church, social and civic organizations, business community, law enforcement association, Red Cross, and the host of volunteers.

 

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