California State Fair returns with record ride and food sales

The California State Fair has made a triumphant return after a two-year hiatus. Although some heat waves suppressed the day’s numbers, attendance reached 652,873, an increase of 8.9% over the 2019 edition. “The California State Fair and Food Festival was a success at many levels, but more than anything, it was great to bring everyone together again – after a two-year hiatus,” said Tom Martinez, Senior Deputy General Manager, California Exposition. & State Fair. “We had a few days of cooler weather on our closing weekend, which translated into higher footfall.”

Visitors to the California fair also loosened the purse strings and spent on carnival rides, food and gambling – the fair features thoroughbred horse racing, one of the fastest growing equestrian events. state view. “While an increase in attendance is wonderful, we are thrilled with food and beverage sales, carnival ride sales and track betting (California State Fair hosts nine days of live Thoroughbred horse racing) . It seems people wanted to visit, eat, drink and immerse themselves in the programming and entertainment throughout the state fairgrounds. Adding “Food Festival” to our name has also increased the enthusiasm of our foodie community. »

Food sales soared above $10 million – with caps of $27.30; and the Butler Amusements Carnival set a new record of $5 million – with $12.40 per cap.

Staffing shortages – which affected all areas of the fair – contributed to reduced hours for the mid-term, which included high-grossing rides, the giant gondola wheel, the Ex Scream Machine roller coaster and the White ride Water Flume. “Compared to 2019, our gross traffic is up approximately 7.5%,” said Andrea Stillwell, Chief Marketing Officer, Butler Amusements. “Our Kidland hours have been reduced by 2 hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The schedule change has effectively provided our employees with more reasonable daily working hours and additional downtime, which is especially needed during the 17-day fair when temperatures often exceed 100 degrees.

Limiting hours and reorganizing schedules may have been a direct result of labor shortages, but operationally the new arrangement worked so well that Butler implemented it in other salons. . “Our broker, even after the hours were reduced, was still operating a minimum of 9 hours per day, allowing customers to get excellent value from our most popular promotions – Pay One Price Wristbands. We are considering implementing reducing mid-term hours at some of our other fairs to create more efficient events.”

back together

Marketing the fair was another challenge – how to sum up a range of grandstands featuring TLC, Chaka Khan, KC & the Sunshine Band, Mariachi Vargas and Smash Mouth – as well as food, rides and the first ever Cannabis Awards at the fair ?

The joy of the reunion was the tact taken – “Back Together” – COVID made the fair absent, and the California State Fair guessed that the hearts of fairgoers grew fonder during the lockdown. Additionally, the show has implemented new security protocols and the necessary marketing to integrate messaging to prepare visitors for the change.

“Our marketing budget has been increased this year to allow for earlier visitor outreach and education, particularly around our new clear bag and unaccompanied minor security policies,” he said.

The show also redirected more funds to digital marketing. In 2019, the CSF media mix was TV – 35%; Radio – 14%; Exterior – 28%; Digital – 23%; Printing – trade only; In contrast, 2022: TV – 26%; Radio – 15%; Exterior – 22%; Digital – 36%; Printing – 1% + trade. “For 2022, we have increased the number of posts on our social feeds, marketing all aspects, programs and exhibitions of the Fair,” he said. “We posted our own original story posts and reposted/shared stories from content creators and visitors. The most effective promotion on social media was giving away gifts for a Fun Pack. These types of posts have received hundreds of comments.

Cannabis rewards

Cannabis – formerly known as marijuana – is now legal for recreational use in 19 states. California may not have been the first, but since legalization in 2016, the state has become a leader in the sale and cultivation of cannabis.

Cultivar Strategies – a licensed producer of cannabis events – was selected by Cal-Expo to create the first Cannabis Exhibition & Awards competition, which received over 300 entries. The actual competition differed from other prizes at the fair in that no consumption took place and the criteria and its evaluation were all “scientific”, using a cannabis and hemp testing laboratory.

According to Tom Martinez, senior assistant general manager, California Exposition & State Fair, a tone of agricultural solidarity has been set for a substance that is still illegal under federal law. “The California State Fair has been celebrating California’s past and present for more than 165 years, especially as it relates to agriculture. The State Fair is also equally concerned with highlighting potential future trends. In the same optics, the California State Fair wanted to provide a forum to celebrate the state’s fastest growing agricultural product, just as we do for wine, cheese, craft beer and olive oil.

Around 85,000 people visited the expo, essentially an ongoing interactive cannabis seminar with infographics, live plant exhibits, film screenings and Q&A panels featuring 55 speakers from all segments of the cannabis industry.

In 2019, the California State Fair was the 28th largest fair in the United States, according to Carnival Warehouse and in a state with 78 agricultural fairs, based in the state capital, as its name suggests; it is the only statewide fair in California, with – 56 counties of the state’s 58 counties participating. The return of this event sends a clear signal that California is back in fair trade. “After not having a fair due to COVID restrictions in 2020 and 2021, the CA State Fair team had to forge ahead into the uncharted territory of hosting the fair in a post-COVID landscape. However, in the end, the State Fair team produced a safe and fun community event that connected people from across the great state of California.


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