Fairs or Football: Which Is the Biggest Score?

By Paula Beadle

Sports sponsorships are valuable, particularly from a branding and hospitality standpoint, but if you really want to engage consumers, your money might be better spent on fairs.

Fairs aren’t as sexy as professional football when it comes to sponsorship. However, you can’t deny that millions of people visit state fairs every year for thrill rides, baby pigs, country music and anything deep fried. Beyond that, fairs were built on education, agriculture and innovation, and continue to have a strong focus on those areas today. Fairs attract the entire family, provide memorable experiences and teach our children, and all for the price of a stadium hot dog and a beer.

Fairs have a unique position in the sponsorship market place. Fairs understand that sponsors can do more than impact the bottom line. Sponsors are an integral part of the fair experience. At fairs, sponsors are the attraction. IEG projected that sports sponsorship would exceed $15 billion in 2016, while Festivals and Fairs would receive closer to $880 million in sponsorship revenue. That’s a whopping 1,700 percent more money spent on football than fairs by corporate sponsors.

The nation’s largest fairs each welcome over a million guests annually. According to Eventcorp, a leading audience research and analytics company, in 2016 fairgoers spent an average of five hours on site and attended with three other people[1]. Visitors are logging serious steps on their Fitbit! They aren’t sitting or standing in their seats. They are interacting. They are interested. Fair visitors crawl around vehicles, watch cooking demonstrations and lie on mattresses. No other sponsor property can bridge marketing and sales like a fair. Consumers actively engage with brands at Fairs in a way that no other advertising program or event sponsorship can provide. Fairs score big!

About the author: Paula Beadle is the president of Caravel Marketing. She is a results driven trailblazer with a proven record of creating order out of chaos. By developing and managing innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue, and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards, Paula has helped numerous organizations discover and achieve their goals.


[1] Based on Fairs surveyed by Eventcorp in the United States in 2016.