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Concordia’s State Fair Debut

The Minnesota State Fair gives visitors a chance to connect with state residents over fried food, energizing entertainment, and a friendly atmosphere. Each year, visitors look forward to trying new culinary experiments and visiting favorite booths scattered throughout the fair.

The Concordia College booth made its debut in the education building at the Minnesota State Fair this year, allowing Concordia representatives to meet up with fair visitors including alumni, current and prospective students, language village participants, and the general public.

The booth was staffed by representatives from multiple campus offices including Communications and Marketing, Concordia Language Villages, and the Admissions and Advancement Offices.

Roger Degerman, senior director for Communications and Marketing, said that the college gained valuable brand placement from having the booth in such a popular destination. Having Concordia Language Villages and Concordia College displayed together allowed visitors to make a connection.

The name recognition that a Concordia Language Village participant has could influence college choice in the future.

“Tying them together with associations works to the advantage of both programs,” said Degerman.

Both organizations’ emphasis on global education were represented at the booth. Workers handed out a fan on a stick resembling Earth for visitors to carry around. This gave visitors a visual representation for the global reach of the college, along with providing some useful relief from the hot fair temperatures.
Workers at the booth also got a unique chance to connect with Concordia alumni.

“When they came around the corner, [we saw] their gleam of pride and excitement to see their alma mater in front of them,” said Searle Swedlund, associate director of Alumni Relations.

Stepping off campus and connecting with alumni was a pleasure for Swedlund, who pointed out the value in connecting with former students.

“We were reminding alumni that they belong to us and we belong to them,” he said.

The fair atmosphere allowed for a relaxed and festive environment for Concordia representatives to talk to visitors.

“It reinforced the sense of community we have on campus in the state fair environment,” Degerman said.

Visitors were encouraged to fill out a slip of paper with their contact information and enter a drawing to win an iPod touch to be given away daily.

This gave the college an idea of who was visiting: prospective students, alumni, villagers, and the general public.

For Degerman, it is too soon to be specific in saying what the State Fair appearance will mean for the college. He’s looking forward to meeting with booth workers and analyzing data collected from visitors to quantify who stopped by.

In the upcoming weeks, people involved with making arrangements for the fair booth and those who worked at it will convene to reflect on the fair experience. They will discuss what they saw and whom they spoke with.

Degerman hopes to use the visitor information recorded to help make future appearances at the fair more successful.

“One appearance isn’t going to work miracles,” he said. “It was a learning experience.”

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