Date of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Science in Agriculture


College of Agriculture

Committee Chair

Kelsi Opat


The COVID-19 pandemic halted aspects of a traditional fair including the agriculture, home economics, entertainment, and carnival exhibits that were missed by the diverse stakeholders who enjoy the traditions of this industry. This study examined how fairgoers reacted to the news of cancellation and investigated fair managers’ communication decisions. An explanatory sequential (QUANT → QUAL) mixed methods design was used. A survey was conducted asking fairgoers to recall communication strategies and feelings after the communication. A more in-depth focus group with fair managers was hosted to understand how crisis communication was utilized, and if active information seekers versus passive information processors influenced communication decisions. Fairgoers in this sample did not have a communication strategy preference and did not have strong feelings toward a specific strategy. Managers utilized training from the industry and modeled other fair’s cancelations to learn how to implement crisis communication tactics. Fairs found that stakeholders have expectations for fairs, and it is the job of a communicator to uphold these expectations when communicating during a crisis. Despite limitations, the future of this topic can be studied to better crisis communication in the fair industry.


situational theory, crisis communication, agriculture, fairs, fairgoers, passive information processors, active information seekers, IAFE, communication strategies

Subject Categories

Agriculture | Communication


© Olivia McKenna Robinson

Open Access