Cincinnati, OH – Rewarding 4H members for participating in county fairs is a longstanding tradition in many areas. At the Greene County Fair, 4H/FFA members earned cash prizes, or more recently paper “Fair Bucks” which could be redeemed anywhere on the Xenia, OH fairgrounds. Though simple to design, produce and distribute the paper products are fragile – especially in the hands (and pockets) of teenagers. This year, though, the “Fair Bucks” are durable aluminum tokens which are proving to be a winning proposition for all parties.
No Change is a Good Change
Paper coupons, gift certificates and “Fair Bucks” are a common way to reward participants at State and County Fairs, and other venues. They are easily designed and produced in- house, and can be customized for each activity and classification being rewarded. But this ease of production also means that the coupons are by nature fragile, and easy to replicate. An award to a 4H/FFA member at the start of a Fair or event probably makes its way into a pocket – and resides there for days, perhaps even making a trip through a wash-and-dry cycle. Even without laundering, paper coupons can tear, crumple and be easily damaged.
To eliminate their duplication and unintended usage, Paper Fair Bucks must be printed on security paper – which is more costly than regular copier paper. Many vendors also offer special “whole dollar” pricing for 4-H/FFA kids, making it simple for them to pay with the new Fair Bucks tokens, without having to make change.
“The kids find it easier to use the tokens because they are more accustomed to having coins in their pockets than paper” said Greene County Secretary Esther Pierson. “Vendors like the tokens because they do not blow away or fall on the floor of their concession. Paper certificates can be more easily misplaced, but tokens go right into the cash drawer.”
Pierson also likes the durability of the tokens which can be used year after year. She also appreciates the opportunity to sell a sponsorship on the tokens which helps to defray their cost. She envisions having additional sponsors each year.
Pierson initially learned of the concept of tokens at the Ohio Fair Managers meeting in Columbus, OH. She met a representative from Osborne Coinage (parent company of TokensDirect) there who was “very helpful, right from the start” recalls Pierson.
“We originally looked at a smaller sized token but they (Osborne rep) suggested a larger size because it would make a better presentation and have more room for a sponsor and fair logo” said Peirce.
Ultimately, Pierson settled on a token that is slightly larger than a half-dollar, and had 10,000 minted for just pennies apiece. “Most vendors use dollar bills and quarters, but not many use half-dollars” she explained, “so the tokens really stand out.”
Each vendor is responsible for bringing the fair tokens to the fair office the day after receiving them. Pierson and her staff count the tokens and issue a receipt for the amount of tokens collected from each vendor. At the conclusion of the fair, vendors are issued a check for the amount of the fair tokens submitted for reimbursement.
Fair tokens are also more “green” because they are re-usable each year, while paper certificates are destroyed at the conclusion of the event.
Last year was the first time that Greene County used the aluminum token “Fair Bucks” but it certainly won’t be the last. Pierson is considering adding color when they mint additional tokens for the event next year. She’ll likely get an additional sponsor or two, proving that there are more than token benefits for all parties involved. 4H members like to save them for whatever interests them at the fair. Vendors appreciate being able to value the tokens at a glance. Fair officials like the ease of handling and control. And sponsors benefit each time their logo and message is seen when the tokens are handled – by 4H members and their parents, vendors, fair officials and others.
While intrinsic learning and personal growth are the primary reasons that 4-H/FFA members participate in the Greene County Fair, they certainly appreciate the high-fives and “Way to Go!” comments that resulted. A quick poll taken by Pierson at the conclusion of last year’s event determined that 4-H/FFA members, their parents and vendors all agree that Fair Bucks Tokens are the “way to go” for future payments for fair projects.