Quilts, pies, and painted potatoes — not to mention sheep, rabbits, and dairy goats — are just a few of the stars of the annual Humboldt County Fair. Held in the northern California town of Ferndale, the fair attracts 5,000 people per day and as many as 60,000 over its ten-day duration.

“We’ve been around since 1896,” says Thomas Nicholson Stratton, Business Administrator for the fair. “This is the fifth year we’ve been a nonprofit. The funding for fairs across the state of California has been drastically decreased, so we’ve relied a lot upon sponsorships. We’ve raised over a million dollars from local businesses and individuals over the last five years.” 

While the annual fair may be its crown jewel, the Humboldt County Fair Association is busy year-round. A small team of dedicated employees oversees graduations, motocross races, and a winter ice rink, Stratton acts as a jack of all trades, “taking in money, organizing plans of work, sending out invoices, digital marketing and traditional marketing.”

Digital marketing, for the Humboldt County Fair, is still a relatively new endeavor. “Traditionally it was newsprint, TV, radio,” Stratton says. These days, things are different. “I can go in and run my marketing campaign for Facebook and Instagram directly through ToneDen.”

From Farm to Fair

Thomas Nicholson Stratton & Cody Nicholson Stratton

“The background I have is in sheep and chickens,” Stratton says. “My husband’s is dairy, chickens, and sheep.” Together, they own and operate Foggy Bottoms Boys, a dairy farm, that also has a small fiber following. “People make yarn from our sheep and rabbit wool.”

Dairy farming is a cornerstone of Humboldt County’s economy, and working with the Fair for the past five years has allowed Stratton greater connection to his new community. “It’s helping integrate some of the things that we already do in our daily lives as well as local entrepreneurs.”

Seamlessly integrated into Stratton’s daily life? ToneDen. “It’s only been since the beginning of April that we’ve started with ticket sales and just short of that we’ve been with ToneDen. It’s been pretty great. Before, it was cumbersome to work on the Facebook platform to run ads.” Even better? Thanks to a beta partnership with TicketSpice, Humboldt County Fair’s ticketing platform, Stratton’s team uses ToneDen.

A Blue Ribbon in Digital Marketing

TicketSpice is one-fifth of Webconnex’s family of fundraising and event management software. Offering users everything from brand customization to ticket fee control, TicketSpice also boasts social media integrations powered by ToneDen. In doing so, they help clients like Humboldt County Fair ace their digital marketing — and, of course, sell tickets.

With ToneDen, Stratton can create outcome-driven campaigns, thanks to the platform’s robust catalogue of Playbooks. “It makes it easier for me to dial in what I’m looking for,” he says. Contest campaigns have been hits, especially the ones utilizing Facebook Messenger.

“It was really great for us to be able to get some of that contact information from folks.”

In June, Stratton ran a prospecting campaign, encouraging their Facebook fans and website visitors to buy tickets for the 123rd annual Humboldt County Fair. Spending a mere $62, Stratton advertised to an audience of almost 6,000. Of those that viewed the ad, 389 clicked and 69 purchased tickets. Translation? A 95.7x return on ad spend — total blue ribbon status. 

Driving Traffic and Updating Tradition

Their partnership with TicketSpice — and ToneDen — might still be a short chapter in Humboldt County Fair’s centuries-long history, but it’s an important one. “We’re starting to see a greater and greater amount of traffic,” Stratton says. “People are looking at the ticketing website and getting prepared to figure out what they want to purchase.”

Stratton has already recommended ToneDen to others. He thinks the platform is a natural for anyone overseeing a fair or a festival — especially one that’s incorporating live entertainment. 

“Many fairs, do a lot of music,” he says. “Being able to do that with Spotify would be awesome for us in the future.” 

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