An Award-Winning Oregon State Fair!

Last week, during the International Association of Fairs and Exposition (IAFE) Annual Conference in Las Vegas, the Oregon State Fair was awarded several awards in a number of categories. One of them involves the “Twitter Adventure” promotions event that I spearheaded while I was with Travel Salem and then the Oregon State Fair.

The 2010 Hall of Honor Communications Awards recognizes industry leaders who use creative promotional campaigns, marketing materials, advertising ideas, social media, etc. to promote their fair and events. The purpose of these awards — which is like the Oscars of the fair and expo industry — is to “improve the advertising and publicity programs of fairs and to provide recognition for those fairs doing an outstanding job.” That being said, it looks like the Oregon State Fair is outstanding!

With all that was going on prior to and during the Fair, we strived to use social media to connect, engage, and create buzz surrounding the 148th annual Oregon State Fair. Social media is about sharing and engaging with your network. It’s a fundamental shift on how we communicate. Twitter and Facebook provided us with a perfect complement of tools allowing us to connect with a large network of Facebook users; collaborate with our audience through informal, two-way communication; and contribute by providing fresh, interesting, and creative content that hooks the attention of our audience and provide opportunities for them to engage with us. Stay tuned for a later post which details the social media strategy we used at the Fair.

Our Case Study:

Opening day of the Oregon State Fair we hosted a “Twitter Adventure.” The idea behind the Twitter Adventure was to generate buzz and create third party endorsements of the fair and its events and/or attractions taking place over the eleven days. We partnered with Travel Oregon and Travel Salem — two of state’s larger destination marketing organizations; and the Statesman Journal, the state’s second largest newspaper publication. We also invited a couple active local Twitter users along for the ride.

With more than 9,000 things to do, see and taste the adventure took more than four hours and covered every corner of the 185-acre fairgrounds.

The adventurers were sent up in the human sling shot otherwise known as the Big Sling, given a behind the scenes experiences at the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series US Championships and the Days of the Dinosaur Exhibit. They shopped, ate, and experienced the arts & crafts, fine art, photography, horse show, livestock, Oregon wine, a flourishing acre garden, a hypnotist, illusionist, Chinese acrobats, a petting zoo, go-kart rides and a monster truck ride. That wasn’t the end of the tour next was the opportunity to try the mountain bike pump track, the BMX race course, view an antique steam-up and sample Oregon micro brews.

At each of the different exhibits, displays, stages and activities the group was tweeting their fair adventure and including photos in real time. The Twitter Adventure allowed the touring group to be followed and engaged the twitter community at large by offering contests and prizes along the adventure. A member of the group would tweet a question about the adventure and the first person to answer correctly won a prize. Almost 300 tweets were sent over the four hour adventure.

The results of this unique use of Twitter was that all the “tweets” sent from the Fair were grouped together using the hashtag #osf10. The tweets were streamed live on and viewable by a combine 15,000 followers, not to mention the thousands more that can see the tweets online. The Oregon State Fair Twitter name (@OregonStateFair) and the #osf10 hashtag were consistently used in tweets from local, statewide and national users; positioning the Oregon State Fair brand in front of thousands of people. In addition, a two-page spread in the Statesman Journal and a blog post on were published.

It’s definitely an honor to be part of a team at the Fair whose hard (mostly fun) work paid off. This “team” extends to the industry and media partners, and to the many that participated in-person and online. Special thanks to those “couple active local Twitter users” mentioned above. These people include: Rob McGuire, Kesha Thomas, Brenna Wilson, and Jake Espinoza. You really helped us extend and populate content, and increase buzz about the Fair. Also thanks to Michelle Godfrey and Jamie Porter from Travel Oregon; Kelly Williams Brown and Thomas Patterson from Statesman Journal; and of course, Kathie Reeves from Travel Salem — the person I sat next to as we were launched what felt like a thousand feet into the air!

Ahh, the Oregon State Fair…an award-winning fair. Can’t wait for next year. It’s going to be “too BIG to miss!”

GoKart” and “MonsterTruck” photos courtesy of Thomas Patterson, Statesman Journal
Featured image (OSF_SJ) courtesy of Statesman Journal, published September 2, 2010.

5 Responses to “An Award-Winning Oregon State Fair!”
  1. Bo Lane says:

    Great article. I remember following along with the Twitter Adventure. In fact, I won one of the prizes that was given away that day! PS. That picture of Kesha and Brenna is a classic!

    • Anthony Tham says:

      Thanks Bo! Yeah, Kesha and Brenna were definitely the loudest of the group during the monster truck ride. Quite entertaining! 😉

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] previous post made me reflect on some of my best work done at the Oregon State Fair. One of the many highlights […]

  2. […] unique voice and brand identity. I think that’s one of the main reasons why the Oregon State Fair won several awards. As the leader of their social media efforts, I found a unique voice that made our Twitter and […]

  3. […] Team up with university organizations and businesses for a major contest/giveaway. People love giveaways, especially students! Create prize packages, food court coupons, etc. Collaborate with the university’s Office of Communications, student-run publications and radio station to broadcast awareness of the contest. Instead of entering information (e.g. email address) to enter the giveaway, focus on giving students the opportunity to engage with your online networks. For an example, see: An Award-Winning Oregon State Fair. […]

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