Announcing the
Barham Award
WFA's Barham Award is presented annually in remembrance of Hot Dog on a Stick Founder Dave Barham, and serves to recognize those Service Members who have demonstrated innovation, quality, and leadership in the field of service.
Out at the Fair ® (OATF) is a family-friendly, all-day festival celebrating the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual community (LGBTQ+), originating at the San Diego County Fair; it is one of the Fair’s most successful and fastest-growing events, and the first of its kind in the Fair industry. OATF is a registered trademark of WZ Productions, LLC, which created and produces the event for the Fair.
    In five short years, OATF has:
    • Gone from a simple Facebook check-in to one of the most important LGBTQ+ events in San Diego County
    • Reached a new demographic and brought together entertainers, community organizations, and fairgoers that previously had not participated in the Fair
    • Increased revenue: as one example, average spending in the Paddock (where most OATF activities take place) was $24,572 per day during the 2017 Fair; for OATF, it was $47,173, exceeding the average by 92%
    • Established the Fair as an inclusive, “gay-friendly” event, where all fairgoers can feel welcome and safe; it also positioned the Del Mar Fairgrounds as an “LGBTQ+ ally” in the community
    • Become a multi-Fair event: the California State Fair held its first OATF on July 30, and the New Mexico State Fair held theirs on September 16. Both Fairs have indicated interest in growing the event in 2018
    WZP’s primary goal for Out at the Fair has always been to provide a family-friendly, fun space, where the entire LGBTQ+ community feels welcome, safe, and included. Another important goal is to let the entire community know that the Fairgrounds and the Fair are "gay friendly" LGBTQ+ allies, not just during Out at the Fair, but yearround. Other goals include to reach a previously untapped demographic, increase attendance, increase revenue, and offer new types of entertainment.
    Long before we knew that WZP would be this year's Barham Award Winner, WFA's Fair Share podcast went to the San Diego County Fair and sat with WZP Owner William Zakrajshek and SDCF's Multicultural Marketing Specialist Luis Valdivia to discuss Out at the Fair's success in Del Mar. The result? You get to hear firsthand their challenges, wins, and most importantly, how you can connect with resources in your community to ensure everyone feels welcome, safe, and included while enjoying your fairgrounds.

    To learn more about WZ Productions, LLC, visit their website at:
    WZ Productions, LLC will be recognized for this achievement during the
    Industry Awards Dinner* at the WFA Convention & Trade Show in Anaheim.

    *6:30 - 9:00 pm
    January 5, 2018
    Industry Awards Dinner
    Platinum Ballroom
    Ticket required

    Contact the WFA Office for details
    Named in honor of WFA's founder Louis Merrill, this award is presented annually to those entries that clearly demonstrate innovation, vision, and excellence. As part of the selection process, finalists are chosen to present their projects* at the WFA Convention & Trade Show.

    The winner(s) will be announced during the Industry Awards Dinner.**

    "The tradition of excellence associated with the Merrill Award is a reflection on the ingenuity of our industry, which we are so fortunate to have in abundance. No one is better at turning vision into reality than fairs, and the Merrill Award recognizes those who do it best."
    ~ Stephen Chambers, WFA Executive Director

    *12:30 - 2:00 pm
    January 3, 2018
    Leadership Luncheon
    Grand Ballroom E
    Ticket required
    **6:30 - 9:00 pm
    January 5, 2018
    Industry Awards Dinner
    Platinum Ballroom
    Ticket required
    ​​​​​​​Contact the WFA Office for details
    Digital Marketing Program
    Taking advantage of the digital revolution, the Alameda County Fairgrounds embraced social media and online marketing across a variety of platforms to reach over 3 million potential fairgoers. Their efforts led to a 77% increase in online carnival wristband sales, 90% of their Wine & Craft Beer Festivals' tickets purchased in advance online, and 10 of 19 concerts sold out in advance. Using digital marketing also allowed the Fairgrounds to access their community's diverse cultural base, including Asian and Latino communities.
    Pervasive Use of Theme
    The 2017 Marin County Fair celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love with their theme Let the Funshine In! Hearkening back to the spirit of 1967, the Fair brought back two bands that performed at the Magic Mountain Music Festival on local Mount Tamalpais fifty years ago, hosted a 5,500 sqft 'Fantasy Fair' museum showcasing the Festival's posters, film footage, photos and a liquid Light Show. Fairgoers participated in Summer of Love POETree, Peace Love & Origami, and competitions with Tie-Dye, Play-Doh, Macrame, Bicycle Wheel Decorating, Tin Crafts, Spin Art, Tangle Art, and Kaleidoscope (Psychedelic, Abstract and Pop Art). From publicity to competitive entries and from entertainment to exhibits, fair staff and fairgoers alike truly Let the Funshine In!
    Autism Awareness Sensory Station
    Recognizing that the fair offers an abundance of sounds, sights and activities, the New Mexico State Fair created the Sensory Station to provide a caliming, relaxed area for children with special needs who may feel overwhelmed by all of the excitement. Consulting with the New Mexico Autism Society (NMAS), the Fair took a section of an air-conditioned building, removed several lighting fixtures, placed black tar paper on the windows for privacy, and created ten 'rooms' with pipe and dark maroon drape. Each room served a purpose, focusing on touch, sight, hearing, solitude, family time, coloring or quiet. Thanks to their partnership with NMAS, the Fair was able to ensure the Station was staffed with a minimum of two people at a time by engaging outside organizations to be "Provider of the Day".
    Combining the two most active communities in Plumas and Sierra Communities, the 2017 Plumas-Sierra County Fair brought arts and agriculture together with their fair-long on-grounds artist community: "Artopolis". With artists camping on the grounds all week, they competed in a week-long mural contest, bringing agriculture to life on 8'x8' murals as fairgoers looked on. Prior to the fair, a local artist traveled to the counties' schools and helped each school create a portion of a mural that became the focus of "Artopolis". While at the fair, children participated in a daily art program including art with leather, watercolors, and even fish scales.
    New Citizen Inclusion Program
    The city of San Diego holds monthly ceremonies awarding US citizenship to 1,500-5,000 legal residents.To help these community members celebrate, the San Diego County Fair (with permission from US Citizenship & Immigration Services) set up a booth at the ceremony and gave away two complimentary fair admission tickets to some 4,000 new citizens. 3,295 of the approximately 8,000 tickets given out were redeemed, and fair staff received compliments from new citizens who heralded the fair as a new family tradition.
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