Successful Entertainment ProgramsRASCLogo

This post is my summary of a presentation at the RASC Conference by Tony Laffan, Entertainment Manager, Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland.

Let’s spread the learning between shows.


Who are shows ‘entertaining’?2015Screenshot075

To provide a great day out for show goes, think about what each demographic attending the show may be interested in. Using demographics information can help you identify the common attendees. At the Brisbane Ekka, 75% of show goers are 36-45 year old females, so they target most entertainment towards keeping mum happy.

The Challenge

To successfully attract public, exhibitors and sponsors, we need to bring agricultural shows into the 21st Century, while still maintaining their traditions.

It is challenging to amuse a generation who are now exposed to more events, television and internet that allow people to custom make their own entertainment at any hour of the day.

Show traditions include the competitions, generally based on the same approach each year, but are each of your sections making small changes, adding or tweaking a class every year to keep things fresh and interesting for exhibitors, or attracting new ones?

Public perception is critical. Many public will consider the traditional competition aspect is ‘the same every year’, therefore the one thing that you can change every year is entertainment. This should help reduce the risk of being perceived as old fashioned.

“The one thing that you can change every year is entertainment”

– Tony Laffan

Entertainment – What to book

Challenge yourself to embrace change and find different way to entertain your patrons. Look for the ‘wow’ factor and continually learn from other festivals or events.

  • Create a theme for the night entertainment, consider a tribute during the night show
  • Create a theme around the grounds for the year eg. Sheep – use all of those products, cartoons characters, anything related to that theme.
  • Get value for money with one person roving acts, rather than groups. Acts that have a vehicle can also move around the grounds or be used in a parade

Make your main arena the main spectacular. Think about what events should have the high profile position of the main arena at different times of the day. For example, horses are a great section, but not really a spectator sport.

Follow Popular Trends. Some of the popular trends at the moment are: AnimalNursery-rabbit

  • Fashion pavilion & parade
  • Cooking stage
  • Outdoor stages & music competition
  • Animal nursery
  • Kids areas

Budget Entertainment

Invite local organisations and businesses to show off their talent and products for free.

Community Performers:               free entertainment through a music or talent show.

Community Sport stage:               eg. zumba, karate, burlesque workshop

Local Business Workshops:          eg. information services, fashion, cosmetics, personal training


Street Entertainment. Place objects and activities around the show or in an area and let people create their own fun. For example street pianos that anyone can play, a circus area with hoops and juggling balls. Let people play with these all day and then hold an occasional fun competition with the public.

“It’s not about watching entertainment, it’s about becoming the entertainment”

– Tony Laffan

Create a world record. A great record starts with a simple idea, the only limit is your imagination. Use a record to generate media attention and get people to flock to your show. The Record Setter Book of world records is an affordable option.

Offset the cost. For some entertainment, it may be possible to brand the act. Explore opportunities to find a sponsor keen to reap the benefits of having the naming rights to some popular show attractions.

Get the word out. Would the media be interested in this act? How can you get some good PR with this attraction, is there a celebrity who can help promote it?


Next Steps for Your Show:

Get creative! Have a brain storming session with your committee, think about fun activities for the main audience segments and make your entertainment program a highlight of your next show. Good Luck!


Thank you Tony Laffan, Entertainment Manager, Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland, for your presentation at the RASC Conference.


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