Restaurant Technology

State and County Fairs are Becoming Tech Savvy: How does this help your FoodService Business Generate Sales?

Around the country, state and county fairs have been bringing people together to eat incredible foods and cheer on the cutest mutton busters. Today we take a look at the history of the American fair, and how fairs are evolving in the Digital Age. 

The modern world has a new set of rules, and within those rules, traditions can often get sidelined. But despite the irresistible nature of modernity, the total annihilation of a tradition rarely happens. Traditions that transcend time are not your average activities; they are special, like the first dance at a wedding or the celebration of an athletic feat, and they become acts of joy. And so traditions last passed down across generations as cultural treasures. 

Among the oldest traditions are good old-fashioned fairs, dating back to ancient Rome and probably even before the birth of Christ. Fairs are distinct from markets or festivals, as they don’t divide entertainment and mercantilism. Instead, both are equally prominent, creating an event that revolves around rides, entertainment, commerce, education, and feasting.

The History of Fairs in the United States

In the Middle Ages, fairs came about as places of convergence for merchants to trade. The United States had a similar beginning for fairs: They were sites for agricultural and livestock farmers to meet and compete. Oxen, sheep, swine, and cattle from farmers and ranchers in the community would enter into competitions, and the person with the best animal would win a prize, oftentimes monetary. 

Believe it or not, the first few fairs in the New World took place in the northernmost region: Canada. The first fair was held in Nova Scotia in 1765, and many small fairs took place across French Canada. Eventually, the concept trickled down to New England, where a farmer and patriot Elkanah Watson would soon earn the title of “Father of US Agricultural Fairs.”

Watson helped neighboring communities develop their own local, county, and state fairs, and the influence grew like wildfire. Fairs were taking place across all 50 states by the end of the 19th century.

While trade was, at first, the reason for the gathering, entertainment was included early on, and soon the fairs were the mixed bags of events that we know them as today. The roller coasters and rides of today’s fairs are far from the simpler versions of earlier fairs, but the early versions were just as spectacular. At the turn of the century, there was no event more exciting to attend.

To get a real glimpse of just how big a deal state fairs were at the time, look no further than the 1944 Judy Garland classic Meet Me in St. Louis, in which the central family is very close to missing the fair. The angst that this evokes is akin to missing your best friend’s wedding. These state fairs were far from primitive; instead, the best of the best were involved.

New Agriculture (Ag) Tech Displayed at County and State Fairs

The Four State Farm show, which encompasses Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, is one of the largest fairs in the country, and they are embracing new farming technology bringing in new visitors. Check out how hosting drone demos and the latest farming equipment has helped them reach more agricultural visitors than ever before. 

Many farmers look forward to county fairs, and farm shows each year to see the newest advances to make their lives easier. These technological draws for ag consumers