Event Planning for the 11-Day State Fair

Live from the Fair: OUTdrive Episode 66 with Kari Mergen

LIVE FROM THE FAIR – OUTdrive Episode 66 with Kari Mergen

The scope of organizing the Missouri State Fair can be difficult to comprehend. Think of it this way: you’re planning a wedding and inviting 350,000 guests that you have to entertain, feed and house for 11 days. Luckily for you, this is all hypothetical, but for Kari Mergen, marketing director of the fair, this event planning process happens on a yearly basis. For our second episode in OUTdrive’s “Live from the Fair” series, I sat down with Kari to get an inside look at the strategy behind hosting the state’s largest agricultural expo.

Kari is in her seventh year as the marketing director, but her history with the fair goes back much further. As a Green Ridge native and lifetime fair-goer, Kari’s first job was as a State Fair Farm Bureau tram hostess. She went on to earn a degree in education from University of Central Missouri, starting her career as a high school English and journalism teacher at Green Ridge. Kari joined the team at the State Fair in 2008 as a public information specialist and spent the next six years in that role before her promotion to marketing director in 2014.

Tune into this “Live from the Fair” episode of OUTdrive as Kari and I discuss all the moving parts that help make the magic of the fair come to life.

Show Notes

2:00 Kari’s job description during the fair and the rest of the year.

4:15 Kari’s takeaways from the 2021 fair and getting back into full swing after last year’s cancellation.

5:50 What would you say to someone who has never been to the Missouri State Fair? Why should they attend?

8:35 Missouri’s Bicentennial tie-in to state pride and planning the marketing direction for the 2022 fair

10:10 Kari’s career journey to Marketing Director and her lifelong connection to the fair

13:40 What would people be surprised to know about planning for an event as large as the State Fair?

15:00 Marketing insights from the 2021 fair and subsequent research to drive next year’s direction

17:00 Social media’s impact on marketing for the fair: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and live streams.

20:15 An indepth look at the fair’s internship program

21:40 How the team manages “crisis” situations, related to weather and concerts.

24:00 What does Kari’s typical day look like?