SEMO Fair attracts new customers

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Visitors to the Southeast Missouri District Fair browse through the many food choices during their visit Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006 (Don Frazier)

Approximately 100,000 people pass through the gates of the SEMO District Fair over the eight day period. That means businesses have 100,000 opportunities to make an impression on the general public.

In a give-and-take fashion, Gary Kight, president of the 2007 Fair Board of Directors, says businesses definitely benefit from the fair, while the fair benefits as well.

"It's a draw for us. People come in, they want something to see," he says.

The fair offers a number of booths featuring a wide variety local services including anything from major farm equipment, to water softeners, heating stoves, and trailers.

"There is usually some type of taxidermy type stuff for the sportsmen," Kight says.

Essentially, there is something for everyone. The idea is that a few months down the road, the fairgoer will think of the business and utilize its services when needed. Most of the vendors hand out free items that may act as a type of reminder.

"You get the maximum amount of people in a minimum amount of days and that helps sell your product," Kight explains. "They are getting a lot of people to their product at one time."

Ted Haertling is a salesperson for FABICK CAT, a company that offers a variety of industrial equipment. Each year they use their equipment to help set up and tear down the fair. During the course of the festivities, the company displays its equipment in a showcase.

Haertling explains it as a type of give- and-take relationship in which FABICK lends a hand to the fair in exchange for great advertising.

He says exposure during the fair "absolutely affects them positively."

Though it doesn't necessarily bring in a slew of new customers, he says, it solidifies the existing, loyal customers that the company is here to support the community.

Kight explains that businesses have the opportunity to display their products in a fashion that allows a lot of people to view it in a short amount of time.

It is better than going out and trying to contact all those people, he says.

Both Grace United Methodist Church and Trinity Lutheran Church have food stands where they earn money for charitable projects. They usually bring in lot of money and sometimes fair week is their fundraiser for the year, says SEMO Fair advertising and promotions contact, Pete Poe.

Earl Siemers has been volunteering with the Trinity Lutheran Men's Club since they began serving food at the fair in 1939. He remembers when the admission was free to entice attendance.

"It's amazing how it has grown," he said. "It's altogether different."

The group uses the fair to generate money for the church for the year. They used to host fish fries, but since building a new church, they use the fair as their concrete fundraiser.

With the number of people passing through, Siemers says they stay busy throughout the eight day period.

"We make a good amount," he said.

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