New Media

N.C. State Fair’s “A Whole Lotta Happy” Is A Whole Lotta Successful

by Michelle Fowler on 10/26/2009

Annual Celebration Uses Top Notch PR To Reach Record Numbers

When you think of the state fair, images of chowing down on questionable deep-fried foods, petting goats, people-watching with the locals and being relentlessly provoked by the man working the whack-a-mole booth all come to mind.  It seems simple enough, but getting the word out about this year’s festivities, themed “A Whole Lotta Happy,” was anything but.

The 2009 event was approached by a team of PR professionals and their interns, who collaborated to take the old fashioned local feel of the State Fair to a whole new level. Fair manager Wesley Wyatt and his crew used a freshly re-designed Web site, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Myspace and Flickr provide news and info, as well as interact with the public through open feedback forums. It was through these outlets where ideas, the latest developments and general excitement were swapped on a minute-to-minute basis, and even inspired the very first “deep-fried tweetup,” an event consisting of local Twitter followers who gathered to indulge in every fried fair treat they could get their hands on. 

The social sites were also used as a tool to connect with fair vendors and sponsors whose participation earned the team bragging rights after the final total attendance was announced Sunday, revealing a record-breaking number of 877,941 people paid a visit to the 10-day long event.  The event coordinators issued the perfect picture of good PR – they managed to promote an event based on tradition, history and simplicity using modern tactics and media without undermining the fair’s concept or root values.