Having Fun is Hard Work

Want to know what it takes to get headliner entertainers for the AT&T Borealis Concert Series? The series is a highlight for many Alaska State Fairgoers – but planning all that fun is also a lot of hard work! In part one of our behind-the-scenes peek at the concert-planning process, we looked at how we get big name concerts without breaking the bank. Now, in part two, we’ll share how we get from the brainstorm … to the big night!

It starts with a wish list…

Believe it or not, our personal preferences don’t really come into play when it comes to picking performers. As our general manager, Ray Ritari, says, “I’ve been involved in shows for over 30 years and have yet to work with my favorite act.” Instead, we constantly keep our finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry. Talk with radio stations to see who’s hot. Look at what shows have been successful in the past. And ask fairgoers who they’d like to see.

Once we have the “wish list,” we start making calls to see what acts are available and how much they cost. We made our first calls about 2010 entertainers the day after the 2009 Fair ended!

But does it make sense?

Then it’s time to decide which acts are a good fit – and if they make financial sense. Since we’re a nonprofit, and we depend on ticket sales and a few great sponsors, it’s important that the shows we select be successful.

Plus, as Ray says, “We want to have a diverse group of entertainers and develop a reason for most everyone to want to come to the Fair.” We ask questions like “Are fairgoers interested in this performer?” “Can we keep ticket prices reasonable?” “Will the act put on a top-quality show?” “Can we offer the facilities and equipment the performer needs?” “Is the show unique from other events happening in the area?” And “Does this include something for everyone?”

If the answers are yes, we make an offer. If it’s accepted, we begin work to make sure the show is a success. If the offer is declined, we move on.

Why wouldn’t they come?

The reasons a performer may not come to the Fair are as varied as the acts themselves. They may not play fairs. They may only play larger venues. They may have to miss out on other shows because of the travel time to and from Alaska. They may not want to leave behind their comfortable tour buses and specialized gear. They may be in the recording studio, have family commitments or be taking a break from touring.  Or they just may not be interested in coming to Alaska. Check out part one of our behind-the-scenes look at concert planning for more insights on this.

Getting the right mix

For whatever reason, we end up considering and approaching many different artists. This year alone, we’ve considered a couple hundred names and had serious conversations with about 60 – not including our 11 confirmed acts. And the work continues, as we try to pin down our 12th and final act. Like Ray says, “We just keep working at it and trying to find the right mix.”

Imagine if…you were planning the 2011 concert series. What artists would be on your wish list? Comment here or share your thoughts on our Facebook page. (Thanks to those of you who already have! We’re taking notes!)

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See Darryl Worley for Free!

Country singer-songwriter Darryl Worley is coming to the Alaska State Fair – and you can win tickets to see his show for free! We’re proud to partner with 99.7 KMBQ to present the concert, “A Night for Our Community and its Veterans,” on Tuesday, August 31 at 7 p.m.

While you can purchase reserved seating tickets to the concert, general admission tickets are only available through 99.7 KMBQ. There are lots of ways to win throughout the summer:

  • May – August: Nominate a veteran/active duty serviceperson. E-mail information about your nominee to dryan@kmbq.com or call 907-373-0997. One pair of concert tickets will be awarded weekly to the winning nominee!
  • May 12 – August 25: Tune in for “Worley Wednesdays.” Listen to Kelly D. midday for the “Get to know Darryl Worley” trivia contest. Be the first caller with the correct answer and win a pair of concert tickets!
  • May 24 – May 28: Soldier Salute Stops. 99.7 KMBQ will give away 10 pairs of Darryl Worley concert tickets during this series of live remotes! Visit kmbq.com for the latest on locations. Must be present to win.
  • June 14: Flag Day Event. 99.7 KMBQ will make stops throughout the Valley between 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. with a traveling “register to win” box. One concert ticket winner will be drawn at each stop – and 10 more lucky winners will be drawn at the end of the day!
  • June 28 – July 2: More Soldier Salute Stops. 99.7 KMBQ will again give away 10 pairs of concert tickets during this second series of live remotes!  Watch kmbq.com for the latest on locations. Must be present to win.

Find out more about the ticket giveaways at kmbq.com and learn more about Darryl Worley at alaskastatefair.org!

Imagine if…you won a set of Darryl Worley concert tickets. Who would you take to the show and why? Comment here or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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Weigh in on School Calendar by May 24

School schedules have a huge impact on families. And the earlier start date for the Anchorage and Mat-Su districts impacts both families and the Alaska State Fair. We addressed this topic in a post earlier this month, and encouraged you to weigh in on the Anchorage school year calendar – and specifically whether you’d like to see an in-service or professional development day scheduled during Fair-time.

The next Anchorage school board meeting will be held Monday, May 24, 2010. During that meeting, the board will be discussing and voting on future school year calendars. Want to make your opinion known? Here are two ways to share your feedback:

Just make sure you voice your thoughts before the May 24 meeting. For more details on the upcoming meeting, check out school board memo #288.

Imagine if…you were addressing the school board about the school year calendar. What would you say? Comment here or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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Big Name Concerts Without Breaking the Bank

Concert ticket prices are a hot topic right now. And we hear that. The truth is, bringing headliner entertainers to the Alaska State Fair isn’t cheap. The asking price for some of the artists we’ve considered for our AT&T Borealis Concert Series has ranged anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000 – plus travel costs!

The fact is…artists charge more to come here. While there’s many possible reasons, often it’s because the Fair falls right in the heart of many artists’ touring seasons. Plus, our dates are shared with many other fairs across the country. So because of the time it takes to travel to and from Alaska, entertainers frequently miss out on other shows.

It’s a delicate balance – booking entertainers you want to see, while keeping ticket prices reasonable. But it’s something we’re committed to.

Another topic we’ve considered – and reconsidered – is including Fair admission in the price of the concert ticket. For years, Fair admission was included in the concert ticket price. But frequently, fairgoers asked to be able to purchase their Fair admissions separately – like they do for other special events, like the rodeo or special shows at the Grandstand.

This allows fairgoers to take advantage of money-saving offers, like the good-any-day six-pack of discounted Fair admissions. It also allows volunteers, vendors or others already on the grounds to attend a concert without paying for Fair admission they don’t need. So to respond to fairgoer preferences, and to keep things simple, flexible and consistent, we no longer include admission in the concert ticket price.

Want to know more about how our annual concert series comes together? Watch for part two of our “behind-the-scenes” blog post!

Imagine if…you were planning the 2011 concert series. What would you do the same or differently? Comment here or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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Win Free Concert Tickets!

Want to win two free tickets to the concert of your choice at the 2010 Alaska State Fair? Here’s your opportunity!

There’s three easy ways to enter:

Already a fan on Facebook? Currently getting e-mail or mobile updates? You’re automatically entered.

Enter by Wednesday, June 30 to get your name in the random drawing. The lucky winner will be announced Thursday, July 1.

In the meantime, check out all the great acts coming to the 2010 Fair as part of the AT&T Borealis Concert Series!

Imagine if you won…what concert would you choose? Comment here or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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Concerts at the 2010 Fair

We’re announcing the entertainers for this year’s AT&T Borealis Concert Series at the Alaska State Fair! (Five months of planning!)

Cutting-edge comedy! Rock & roll and country superstars! One of Alaska’s emerging rock bands! We think it might be one of our most impressive line-ups ever:

Collective Soul
.38 Special
Static Cycle
38 Special

August 29 @ 7pm

Darryl Worley
Ricky Skaggs
Jake and Elwood Blues Review
Howie Mandel
Kenny Rogers
Boyz II Men
Boyz II MenSeptember 6 @ 3pm

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, June 1. There are three ways you can buy them:

- Online at alaskastatefair.org and print at home
- The free new iPhone app from ETIX
- The Fair box office during the Fair

Can’t wait? Become a Fair member and you can buy tickets starting May 7. Check out alaskastatefair.org for all the details on that. Our Web site also has in-depth information on each of this year’s performers, including ticket prices, bios, photos and music samples.

What do you think? Comment here or share your suggestions on our Facebook page

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School Calendars & Fair Schedules–Do They Make the Grade?

Kids and families make up a large portion of Fair visitors. The event attracts families with school-age children, as well as many teen employees, vendors, volunteers and event participants.

That’s why we pay close attention to the school calendars in the Mat-Su Valley and in Anchorage.Several years ago, both the Mat-Su Borough School District and the Anchorage School District changed their calendars to start before Labor Day and end before Memorial Day. Since the Fair typically runs from late August through Labor Day weekend, this schedule change had an impact.

But earlier this spring, after much collaboration with the Fair, the Mat-Su school board made a change: they approved a professional development day for teachers on Friday, September 3. There will be no classes on that day, which coincides with the final Friday of this year’s Fair. Of course, we’re very pleased that students now have a weekday that they can attend the Fair without having to miss school.

While there is no professional development or in-service day that coincides with the Fair on the current version of the Anchorage School District’s 2010 – 2011 calendar, the district is seeking comments on future year calendars.

What do you think? Is the current calendar working? Would you like to see a professional development or in-service day for kids during the Fair? Weigh in with your opinion by taking a brief school survey. And share your thoughts here on our blog or on our Facebook page.

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