Author Topic: Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth  (Read 2640 times)

Offline WDE97

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Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth
« on: October 17, 2012, 03:21:19 PM »
Our county fair hosts a homebrew competition each year and has a booth during the fair which displays the winning beers and ribbons. It's an okay display but boring, with nothing but bottles of beer and ribbons. Additionally, this year saw a record low number of entries (24) and I have heard a lot of grumblings from local club members about the poor quality of judging and overall lame-ness of the booth. I don't want to see the competition removed from the fair, so I approached the Homebrew competition superintendant and discussed the problem. I made a few suggestions and was promptly made vice-superintendant for next year, in charge of making the booth better.  ;D

I'm actually pretty excited about the opportunity and am looking for suggestions to improve our display and increase participation in the comp. My goals for the display are to promote homebrewing to the community and advertise the two local clubs. I hope to improve the judging as well, as the current judges don't provide much if any feedback and the score sheets they use are terrible. Any ideas would be appreciated. Keep in mind that our booth is 16' x 8', of which half is taken up with the winners display. Here are a few things I am thinking about:

1. Use BCJP score sheets instead of crappy score sheet currently used, and encourage/require judges to provide feedback of some kind (though we don't have any certified judges).
2. Have a display with beer equipment and supplies (grains, hops, etc).
3. Staff the display to answer questions and sign up new members.
4. Possibly have a brewing demonstration one evening.
5. Display board with pictures of our club brewing and/or of the brewing process.
Robert H.

There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.    - Steven Wright

On tap: Flander's Red, IPA, Belgian Pale, Northern English Brown Ale.

Fermenting: Flander's Red, Farmhouse Rye, Northwest Pale.

Aging: 4 Flander's Red Ales, Belgian Dark Strong (in whiskey barrel), Belgian Dark Strong, RIS.

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 04:40:06 AM »
If it is legal in your area, give away samples.  Either for as long as quanities last or for a couple hours at a time.

Definately have people in the booth who can answer questions.  The Iowa State Fairs homebrewing display is something like 8' x 6' and nothing but ribbons with names on them.   ::)  Ironically, all the cut flowers are displyed in beer bottle vases.

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 08:02:51 AM »
an educational display of the ingredients and explanation of the benefits would be good if you can't do an actuall demo. Maybe find at least 1 BCJP judge to help the panel out? just so there is someone there that can explain the judging process and answer questions about styles.

Provide the judges with copies of the style guidelines. I am pretty sure you can legally just print a few copies out but Gorden Strong can probably verify that for you (you can PM him here or just post a question with his name in the title and probably get his attention)
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

Jonathan I Fuller

Offline thetooth

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Re: Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 01:28:16 PM »

1. Use BCJP score sheets instead of crappy score sheet currently used, and encourage/require judges to provide feedback of some kind (though we don't have any certified judges).
2. Have a display with beer equipment and supplies (grains, hops, etc).
3. Staff the display to answer questions and sign up new members.
4. Possibly have a brewing demonstration one evening.
5. Display board with pictures of our club brewing and/or of the brewing process.

1. Yes!  Definitely use the standard sheet and require judges to provide feedback.  Also, why no certified judges?  I would think that if you had 2 homebrew clubs in the area that they would have at least a couple certified judges in their ranks.
2. Nice displays are great, but they won't help participation this year unless you get the clubs involved early and get the word out that the comp is being revamped.
3. Great idea.
4. Great idea.
5. Great idea.

Other ideas:  See if you can organize a small party or awards ceremony for the winners.  If you can work a party, see if it's legal for entrants to bring/share beer.  On-site bottle shares are fun and could be enough to entice more people to enter the comp.

In my opinion, the big fix has to be the judging.  If the judges are unqualified and the judging sheets are lame or blank, people just aren't going to enter your comp.  I think that's the first thing you need to get on top of.

Offline WDE97

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Re: Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 02:13:04 PM »
I really appreciate everyone's input. I agree that fixing the judging is the most important part of improving the participation. However, that is much easier said than done. I don't think using the BJCP scoresheets will be a big deal, but the group who judges have been doing it for a long time and I get the impression they think it is their right to do it regardless of how good or bad they are. My biggest challenge will be getting some of them to step aside for the greater good. Even though we have two clubs, we don't have any certified judges. One club is basically an older crowd that basically just uses it as a social club (all of the judges come from this club). The other club was formed last year after a few of us got fed up with the other club not doing anything. Several of us want to get certified but just haven't had the time yet.

I really like the idea of a party for the winners. I could probably get our local microbrewery to host an event (we already hold our club meetings there).
Robert H.

There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.    - Steven Wright

On tap: Flander's Red, IPA, Belgian Pale, Northern English Brown Ale.

Fermenting: Flander's Red, Farmhouse Rye, Northwest Pale.

Aging: 4 Flander's Red Ales, Belgian Dark Strong (in whiskey barrel), Belgian Dark Strong, RIS.

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 02:25:56 PM »
I do not have any knowledge when it comes to the map of IN but the AHA lists a ton of clubs in the state.  You might be able to entice some BJCP judges from other clubs that are reasonably nearby to help out.  There's no reason to limit it to the 2 in your county.  Maybe the local brew pub would help out with meals or after judging libations to lure them in.

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2013, 12:43:08 PM »
You're right. Bottles of beer have poor display quality. I'd have a list of winners by category. Include the winners name and the beer's name if they included it on the entry sheet.  Anything else you can get to add personality to the winners will help.  For the rest of the booth I'd concentrate on using it to recruit new homebrewers.
 
This is separate from the competition though. Most people enter competitions for the feedback so if they're not getting it they'll stop entering. We have bjcp judges traveling 1.5 hours or more to judge at our state fair competition. Just treat them well once they get there!
Jimmy K

Delmarva United Homebrewers - President by inverse coup when the old president ousted himself.
AHA Member since 2006
BJCP: B0958

Offline smkranz

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Re: Need suggestions for improving County Fair booth
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2013, 07:47:40 AM »
For something like $20 you can have Office Depot or Staples make you a large (e.g. 2'x3') laminated copy of the beer scoresheet.  Hang it conspicuously.  It works really well for us as a point of discussion for passers-by at the annual beer festival.

Registering the competition with the BJCP well in advance will possibly get you more entries, as well as access to the BJCP judges' email list.  Even with one or two BJCP judges heading up a couple of flights could help your comp's credibility with brewers and increase participation.

Another big way to help increase entries is to use a registration web site.  If you don't have someone in-house who can do that, consider using the hosting services for $25 a year http://www.brewcompetition.com/hosting.  We used Geoff's hosting service for the first time this past year, and though there are some quirks, he is very responsive.  You enter your competitions rules, drop-off locations, sponsors (if you have any), etc.  The site lets people register and pay online, and also lets judges sign up.
Steve Kranz
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Midnight Homebrewers' League
Westminster, Maryland
http://www.midnighthomebrewers.org