By EMILY RAMSEY
WORKING TOWARD SEPT. 26: Fair Manager Amanda Blair, left, and Expo Square CEO and President Mark Andrus sit on the Sky Ride in preparation for the 2013 Tulsa State Fair, which begins Sept. 26. Thirty new or updated rides are coming to the fair as well as a Food Finder app.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
As this year’s Tulsa State Fair gets under way starting Sept. 26, Fair Manager Amanda Blair and her team will be doing much more than solely overseeing the event.
They will also be making plans for next year’s fair.
Blair, who has served in her current role for five years, is always looking for ways to improve the fair from year to year, and she holds a high level of pride in the event’s continued improvements.
Recent asthetic changes have given the fair a more professional appearance, Blair says, such as the six new ticket booths to be brought in this year.
Arguably the most exciting news, for young ones in particular, will be the 30 new rides, which will include updated versions of longtime favorites like the Himalaya.
Among the new rides will be White Water Flume, The Fighter, The Vertigo, The Fire Ball, The Inverter and a zipline that will stretch 200 feet down Midway.
We made sure to choose a variety of rides that would attract various age groups, from families with small children to teenagers looking for thrills, Blair says.
Staff members will be extra busy this year during the fair, as they will be taping commercials for the 2014 and 2015 fairs.
Needless to say, behind-the-scenes preparations for the upcoming fair are always taking place at Expo Square. Fair employees will spend the event’s 11 days scrutinizing details and looking for areas of future improvements, such as the layout or entertainment offerings.
After the fair ends, Blair first holds a meeting to assess the event and discuss the budget for the coming year. Staff members then begin researching potential entertainment and booking entertainers before the end of the year.
Determining the performance schedule is another early focus of fair staff. “There are some different schools of thought on how to schedule performances,” Blair says. “One is to schedule a few at the same time.” Blair, however, prefers to stagger performances to allow patrons opportunity to see as many shows as desired.
Blair expects attendees to notice a difference in the configuration of this year’s fair with “less zig-zagging around Midway,” she says. The layout will be in the shape of an X, with aisles running east and west, through Midway, which is located between the Expo Center and the Exchange Center.
As the fair nears, the focus moves to creating, printing and distributing marketing materials, staff training, ordering uniforms and badges, and addressing any electrical problems.
Included in the yearly marketing plan is promotion of its Mega Ride Pass, on sale beginning Aug. 1. Passes are $70 through Sept. 15; Sept. 16-26, the cost is $75; after that, the price increases to $80. With the Mega Ride Pass, visitors receive free gate admission each day of the fair and unlimited carnival rides, with the exception of the Sky Ride, Sling Shot and Skyscraper.
For those not so interested in thrill rides, the fair will offer many other entertainment choices. Blair cites more than 500 activities.
Expo Square and President Mark Andrus credits Blair with much of the fair’s noted improvements over the past five years. No doubt, that has played a role in the Tulsa State Fair holding steady at the top of national rankings in fair attendance.
Everyone appreciates the undeniable role that food plays at any fair. For that reason, for the first time this year, individuals can learn about all of the unique and just plain strange food items and where they can be found on the fairgrounds through the Food Finder, available as a mobile phone app or on the Tulsa State Fair website.