Like the proverbial elephant that must be consumed one bite at a time, planning a major event like a Preparedness Fair is best done one step at a time. Follow these simple steps for a successful fair:
Decide the purpose of your Preparedness Fair.
Are you trying to educate your community on the general advantages of thinking in terms of preparation? Are you hoping to encourage the employees of your company to get emergency kits to keep at work or in their cars? Or do you live in an area where severe weather is a constant threat, and you’re trying to help people prepare for that?
Decide who’s hosting the Preparedness Fair.
A school, church, hospital, business, city or county jurisdiction, emergency services, or any combination thereof could participate in hosting the event. If your group is small, you may want to partner with another.
Know your target audience.
Will it be the general public, your church, club, or civic group, extended family, or employees of your company? The answer will dictate the size of the venue, number of presenters, and budget. If you’re trying to attract as many people as possible, you’ll need a large venue such as a community center, hospital lobby, or multipurpose room at a college. If you’re planning several presenters who will repeat their classes, you’ll want a building with classrooms as well as an open area. A local church might be ideal for that. (Remember: free is good!)
Choose a goal or theme.
Unless your fair is enormous, it’s usually better to have a central theme rather than trying to cover all aspects of preparedness. Examples:
- “Family Safety” with topics such as “Smoke and CO2 Detectors,” “Avoiding Risky Behavior,” “Hidden Dangers in Your Home,” and “Planning to Meet After an Emergency”
- “Bringing in the Harvest” with classes on gardening, composting, fruit and vegetable recipes, and food preservation methods
- “Making Your Own Emergency Kits” emphasizing car kits, first-aid kits, 72-hour survival kits, and baby bug-out bags
- “Water Storage,” covering topics such as ways water can be contaminated, appropriate storage containers, and water purification techniques
- “Keeping a Weather Eye,” with classes on earthquake, storm, fire, or flood preparedness, evacuation procedures, and how to turn off utilities.
- For more ideas, browse our website, blog, and Insight articles.
Decide if you want commercial booths and vendors or strictly informational presenters. (Remember, if your fair is hosted by a tax-exempt organization, then your presentations will need to be informational only.) Will your presenters expect pay or do it as community service?
You could have several classes going at a time and let your audience rotate between them, plus have an informational video repeating in the main room along with several booths. Choose presenters who will be well-prepared and professional with up-to-date, practical information. Handouts are helpful. (See the “Education” tab on our website and look through our blogs and insight articles for materials you can use.)
You may be able to get representatives from FEMA, CERT, or your local police and fire department. If you happen to be in Utah, you can schedule a representative from Emergency Essentials for your event. Just email email@example.com for information.
Select a Crew.
In addition to your presenters, you’ll need people to set up and take down booths, tables, and chairs; provide technical help with microphones, computers, projectors, etc.; contribute and serve refreshments; man a booth with kid-friendly activities; be greeters; and direct visitors to classrooms. Unless you can get volunteers to do these things, remember to figure staffing expenses into your budget.
Some good advertising methods are flyers, posters, community radio spots, word-of-mouth, email messages, yard signs, church or business announcements, Facebook notices, and newspaper article. Be sure all ads give the date, time, and location of the preparedness fair. Include a couple of “hooks” like refreshments or door prizes, and use the back of the flyer to detail activities and presenters. The more people you involve in some aspect of the fair, the better your attendance will be—they’ll come and usually bring others with them.
Good luck! Having followed the above guidelines, you should be all set to have a great Preparedness Fair. We hope your event is so successful you’ll want to do it again.
Feedback: Have you hosted or attended a preparedness fair or expo that included some great ideas you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about them.
Resources for your event:
- Emergency Essentials offers up to 100 catalogs (free) for your events
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips, free catalogs, or to schedule and Emergency Essentials rep for your Utah-based event
- Prep School Modules – great as handouts for introductory classes on preparedness topics