Recently we have made some changes to our Sponsorship program which I believe will prove very beneficial to not only the upcoming York Fair and the York Expo Center, but also to our Sponsors and Partners.
When I arrived last August and started in my role as Chief Operating Officer, I noticed several areas that we could improve and enhance which I wanted to work towards as Chief Executive Officer at the beginning of this year. With my background in Sponsorships after spending six years in that department at the Kentucky State Fair, to say that I have an affinity for the Sponsorship process would be an understatement. I have seen and experienced firsthand how successful Sponsorships can be for both our events and facilities along with the success it can bring to businesses and industries who seek a solid return on investment to be a Sponsor.
For the last several years, primarily due to staffing concerns, the York Expo Center has contracted with a couple of different outside companies to recruit, activate and maintain relationships with Sponsors. One thing that was apparent to me after living in York County for the last several months is that the York Fair/York Expo Center must handle our Sponsorships/Partnerships on a local level to provide almost a “hometown” approach and feel to serving our Sponsors on a local, regional and even national level.
Before I go much farther with a few announcements regarding this change, allow me to explain a basic definition of what Sponsorship is and how it is different from a donation. The best definition of a Sponsorship is a critical source of funding for all kinds of events where companies, nonprofits and small businesses give a certain amount of cash, merchandise or services I exchange for both visibility and brand awareness at an event. In other words, the Sponsor pays a fee (either in cash or trade) which is used to help offset the cost of the event or facility operation. In return the Sponsor gets advertising on the Expo Center grounds and also access to the 500,000 guests who attend the Fair or the 2,000,000 people who come through the Expo Center grounds all year.
By contrast, a donation is simply the gift of cash, services or merchandise typically with no expectation of visibility or brand awareness at an event. Most donations are made by individuals, some of whom prefer to remain anonymous. However, all donations are eligible for a tax receipt since we are a 501(c)(3) organization. For fairs, events or facilities, Sponsorships and Donations can greatly help offset the tremendous costs of producing events or maintaining facilities. Each year we build a budget based on projected expenses and revenues and as part of that we include Sponsorships.
Currently, we have two kinds of Sponsorships that we are able to offer. Event Sponsorships revolve around the Fair itself. These types of Sponsorships may be for an area of the Fair such as the Ag Education Center, a show at the Fair such as Kachunga & the Alligator, a Day at the Fair which often involves free or reduced gate admission for all Fair guests or some other asset such as the back of concert or admission tickets. In exchange for the Sponsorship fee, or merchandise/service trade there are benefit packages that are included for the Sponsor as well. These benefits are negotiated individually with each sponsor but can include admission tickets, concert tickets, exhibit space, advertising and more. The other type of Sponsorship we offer are Facility Naming Rights. Buildings on the Expo Center grounds such as the Arena, Grandstand Stage, Memorial Hall and others currently have or have had Naming Rights affiliated with them. This type of Sponsorship is usually a multi-year arrangement which gives the Sponsor recognition and benefits all year long.
Since we moved our Sponsorship Department back in-house, our Director of Business Development, Cody Cashman, is in charge of managing these relationships. In the coming days we will be announcing two new major Fair Sponsors that we have signed in the last two weeks. We also have a couple of additional deals that have been made for Fair Sponsors that we are awaiting contract signatures before announcing. There were a few other Sponsorships that were secured prior to these changes which will be announced soon too. We are also working on some Naming Rights deals that we hope to soon release details on as well. While it may sound like that we are doing well, we still have plenty of space for more Sponsors. In fact, we are well below where we’d like to be and quite honestly where we should be for a fair/facility our size. We are entering the final stretch of recruiting Sponsors for the 2019 York Fair and our number one goal is providing our Sponsors with excellent customer service all while helping them achieve a solid return on investment.
I believe these changes are going to grow our Sponsorships to all new levels, particularly since we are going to be making some positive changes with the York Fair in the near future. So if you are affiliated with a business or organization that you think would benefit from being an event sponsor or a naming rights sponsor, I encourage you to give us a call at 717-848-2596 and ask for Cody or email him at email@example.com. We look forward to talking with you and exploring the ways that we can partner with you.
Next month, we will be just outside a month away from the 2019 York Fair and I’ll use the August blog to update you on a lot of different things ranging from Promotional Days to midway rides to new foods and exhibits that you’ll find September 6-15th at the 254th York Fair!
Until next month, may all your days be Fair days!