Interested in hosting a Children’s Business Fair in your area? Here’s everything you need to know! This post is sponsored by Acton Children’s Business Fair and includes tracking links. For more information about tracking links and how to opt out, please visit All About Do Not Track (https://allaboutdnt.com/) prior to clicking any links found in this post.
As an online entrepreneur for the last 8 years who is also going back to school for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from BYU this Fall, when I learned about the Acton Children’s Business Fair, I immediately wanted my children to participate in one.
Problem was, there weren’t any fairs currently happening near us in Orange County, NY (you can see if there are children’s business fairs happening near you here).
My children were immediately excited about this business fair idea, so I decided why not go ahead and host an event myself for my children, and other homeschool and public school children in our area.
I know, it sounds crazy right, because it is going to take up so much time, and I’m already a busy woman, and so on. But, Acton makes it so easy to host, and they even will award prize money for those who host!
I’m here to give you a complete picture of what to expect as the host of a Children’s Business Fair: how much money it costs, how to get people to sign up, how to advertise for it, and how to not spend a ton of time doing it, but still have it be a success for all involved.
Table of contents
Acton Children’s Business Fair
Hosting an Acton Children’s Business Fair
- Who can host a fair?
- How do you apply tohaost an Acton Children’s Business Fair?
- Where should you host a Children’s Business Fair?
- How much money does it cost to host an Acton Children’s Business Fair?
- Setting up an Acton Children’s Fair website
- How to set-up Paypal on your website and collect booth fees
Recruiting Young Entrepreneurs to the Children’s Business Fair
- What are the rules for children selling at the Children’s Business Fair?
- How do you get children to sign up and participate in the Acton Children’s Business Fair?
- What can children sell at the Children’s Business Fair?
Promoting the Children’s Business Fair
Executing the Children’s Business Fair the Day Of the Event
First, let’s discuss what is Acton Children’s Business Fair and why you should want to participate in one!
What is Acton Children’s Business Fair?
Jeff and Laura Sandefer and a few other families wanted to spark a sense of wonder and entrepreneurship in their children so they created the first Acton Children’s Business Fair in Austin, Texas, in 2007. That year, there were seven entrepreneurs and around 25 attendees.
Now, there are over 115 entrepreneurs and 1,500 attendees at the Acton Children’s Business Fair in Austin, TX.
Acton Children’s Business Fairs are a celebration of young entrepreneurs around the world. Acton’s founders, Charlie and Sam Sandefer, want to offer the gift of entrepreneurship to as many young entrepreneurs as possible via locally hosted Acton Children’s Business Fairs.
These fairs are one-day events held all over the country, and internationally, where children can experience starting their own business in a safe environment.
Who Can Host an Acton Children’s Business Fair?
Hosts must be 18+ years old and pass a background screening prior to the start of the event to ensure the safety of the children. They can check for criminal records, employment, education, driving records, drug testing, and more.
Hosts are sent an email a few weeks before their event from Checkr to run a background report. Hosts have seven days to complete the process before the invitation link expires. You are able to view a copy of your report as well. On average the background checks takes 3-5 days, but mine was back in less than 24 hours.
How do you apply to host an Acton Children’s Business Fair?
To get started, simply head to this link.
It will ask you to tell them a little about yourself, name, email, phone number, if you have a child that wants to participate in the fair, if you or your significant other have experience launching a business, organization, or project, and to describe that experience.
They also want to know when and where you plan to launch the fair, if you work with an organization or are an individual, and how you heard about Acton Children’s Business Fair (be sure and tell them Katelyn Fagan or What’s up Fagans? told you about it!).
They also ask if you will agree to solely provide a place for children to learn on their own, without any formal teaching or business help. They say this because “After hundreds of successful Children’s Business Fairs, our co-founders Charlie and Sam (Laura and Jeff Sandefer’s two sons) remain convinced young entrepreneurs learn best by doing, and aspiring entrepreneurs agree.”
You can learn more about this stance via their 3 Magic Seeds: Discovering the Entrepreneurial Spirit PDF.
The next step is creating a video explaining why you’d like to host a fair.
The video only needs to be a few minutes long, introduce yourself and your participating children, share your experience hosting events, how you’ll promote this event, how you’ll get people to join, and why you want to do this! Our video was only 2 minutes long!
In all of this, remember that you don’t need to know every detail in order to apply! You’ll figure out all the exact details later!
Where should you host a Children’s Business Fair in your community?
You can literally host a Children’s Business Fair in your own backyard! You can host it as part of a bigger local event, at the park, at the library, at a church, at the fairgrounds, or anywhere you have permission and legal right to be there and selling.
The location does not have to cost money!
How much money does it cost to host an Acton Children’s Business Fair?
Hosting a children’s business fair costs as much or as little as you choose to spend on advertising and hosting. It doesn’t cost anything to sign-up to be a host or put together a website.
All costs associated with hosting are costs associated with the event itself. This includes costs like venue reservations, table, chair, or canopy rentals, signage, Facebook ads, newspaper ads, prizes for contest winners, T-shirts for the kids, and any other things you may want to spend money on.
The great thing is it doesn’t have to cost you anything! You can require the children to provide their own tables, chairs, and tents, host the event for free somewhere, and advertise the event through free channels. You don’t need to put together participation gifts or extra prizes for winners.
Also, you are welcome to accept local business sponsors for the event, as well as collect booth fees from the young entrepreneurs who want to participate in the event. Both of those help offset any costs from hosting the event and allow you to do more advertising, provide the tents, or furnish prizes.
Lastly, after the fair is completed, hosts fill out a “Post Fair Report” and indicate how many children participated in the event, and how many visitors you had. You will receive a check after the event based on the number of booths your event hosted with $10/booth for the first 25 booths, and $5/booth thereafter up to $500.
This money from Acton is to offset the costs of the fair and/or be given to the entrepreneurs during the awards ceremony. It’s completely up to you.
Each booth in my fair paid $20 to participate, and we had seven booths registered. The place we held the event cost $100. I awarded $50 to the three different age groups at the end, which ultimately means I am out $50 plus a little for some posters for the event.
In your Toolkit (1. “Plan” folder), Acton supplies you with a CBF Budget Worksheet to help you keep track of your expenses, participant fees, and prize money, so you can know how much sponsorship money you will need to secure.
Setting up an Acton Children’s Business Fair Website
Okay, you need some basic computer understanding of things like editing a page, saving pages to update them, how to add attachments (images), and so on. You can always email them for help if you get stuck or confused, or reach out in their super helpful Facebook group just for fair hosts, searching in that group if someone already asked about the question you have.
When you go into the Fair Settings, one of the difficult things I came across was the “Add Payment option through Paypal” section.
I have a Business Paypal account, and have for years (and I think you do need a Business Paypal account – don’t worry it’s free to turn your Paypal account into a business version), but I had never made a payout button through their platform.
I will assume you are the same. So, here’s a quick rundown on how to do that:
How to Create a Paypal Button and Get the URL link
When you go into Paypal, click “Pay & Get Paid” tab at the top, and select PayPal Buttons.
There are several different buttons you can add, but you will want to select the simple “Buy Now” button, the third option on the top row.
Once you get to the PayPal button customization page, you will choose a button type “Buy Now” and fill in the item name, something like “Acton Children’s Business Fair of [LOCATION]”. Then set the price to $20 (or whatever you are charging) in USD.
I didn’t customize the button or text or appearance. Set the shipping to $0.00 and the tax rate to 0.00%.
The other two sections are optional, so leave them alone. Now click “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the screen.
Now, I could NOT figure out how to make the code into a link, like they are asking for on the settings, but I searched in the Facebook group, and sure enough, found the answer.
When you are presented with the code, there is a tab for “website” and another next to it for “email.” When you click the Email tab, the link will appear!
Now copy and paste that into your site’s setting, and you should be good to go!
Recruiting Children to Sign up for the Acton Children’s Business Fair
What are the rules for children selling at the Children’s Business Fair?
Children are expected to be at least 5 or 6 years old on the date of the fair to participate, and in most cases, not older than 14. Children can work as a group, with no more than 3 children per business, and the group is judged in the age category of the oldest participant, but there is only one application form.
Children must pay for their own supplies, materials, booth fee, and all of it, or work out a way to pay back the loans for acquiring the supplies required. They are to come up with their own business name, idea, products, display, and do all their own selling.
Children are also not allowed to get individual sponsors as there will be no soliciting personal or individual business sponsors for a child’s product.
How do you get children to sign up and participate in the Acton Children’s Business Fair?
Tell everyone you know about the fair and encourage them to sign up!
Neighbors, PTO/PTA meetings, your children’s classmates and teachers, church youth groups, homeschool groups, community clubs and organizations for children, on social media, and others! Be sure to follow up as much as possible to those who expressed interest, and direct everyone to your unique fair website link to learn more and sign-up!
What can children sell at the Children’s Business Fair?
Children can sell whatever they’d like! At our fair we had:
- Handmade Gear Bracelets
- 3-D Printed Geocaches
- Fish Soap Trays made with a 3-D pen
- Mini Fishbowl Aquariums
- Upcycled Fairyhouses
- Original artwork and photography
- Record Bowls
Children can make and sell drinks, food, games, cards, posters, stickers, jewelry, ceramics, sculptures, tricks, massages, manicures, face painting, and more!
Promoting the Acton Children’s Business Fair
How to Promote the Children’s Business Fair
Possibly one of the hardest things is getting people to actually show up the day of the event to shop the booths! Your entrepreneurs are gonna show up and have amazing products and services to sell, so as the host, you need to do what you can to get people to come to help them have the best experience possible.
This is by far the thing I worried about the most, and I don’t know that I did amazing, but all the booths ended up getting at least one sale, and many went home to sell some to other family and friends who couldn’t make the event.
Here are some places you can promote your event:
- Create a Public Facebook event. Invite all the parents of the entrepreneurs to mark they are going and invite all of their Facebook friends to the event, share it in various local groups, etc. Make sure to adjust the settings so the parents can share images and updates about their children’s products before the event on the discussion tab.
- Share about it in Facebook Groups. From local yard sale and garage sale groups, to local homeschool groups, local mom groups, groups for families who attend your child’s school, or whatever local Facebook groups you belong to (which allow you to share events), share the event there and encourage people to come out!
- Local event websites. If there are websites that allow you to submit local events, add the fair! You can pay for the event to be promoted too, if you want to pursue that option!
- Local Radio or TV Ad/Spot. If you have connections, or contact a local radio or TV station, you may be able to be a guest and speak about the upcoming fair! You could also think about running a radio or local TV ad for the event!
- Flyers and Posters. Put up, or hand out, flyers and posters in high traffic areas about the event in your community (with permission).
- Newspaper Ads and Press Releases. Part of the media kit Acton supplies hosts with is a press release template! You can edit it and submit that to local newspaper and other news channels outlets. Doing this lead to a reporter showing up to our fair and the Orange County Children’s Business Fair being featured in the newspaper two days later! It may not have helped drive traffic to the event this year, but it helps for the following year. Plus, the children think it’s awesome they were quoted and shown in a newspaper article!
- Have Sponsors Share about the Event on Social and Email. If you secure sponsors for the event, make sure they let their audiences know where they’ll be and what they are doing!
- Have the entrepreneurs share it. Part of the application asks the children how they will advertise for the fair! Send out reminders to the booth registrants to spread the word to their family and friends and schools and churches, or wherever they or their parents have connections! They can even share about it on their own social media, Youtube, or websites (if they have them).
You can’t guarantee that people will show up in drove to your event, unfortunately. We had about 50 people come by our event, and many of them were the parents and families of the entrepreneurs. But, that doesn’t mean our fair wasn’t successful. It was.
Remember, the very first Acton Children’s Business Fair also started small! Each year that you (or your community) hosts a fair, it will grow and be easier to promote!
Executing the Acton Children’s Business Fair
How Do You Select Judges?
Honestly, you can pick whoever you’d like to be a judge. You will need at least two judges (per age category, but the same two can judge every age category, especially if your event is small), and preference should be given to people who are familiar with entrepreneurship. It can be other parents, yourself, local business owners, sponsors, or close friends or family.
In the Toolkit for hosts, there is an email template for recruiting judges for the event you can use.
How Do You Do the Awards Ceremony?
The awards ceremony is to be held immediately after the fair has concluded.
During the event, the judges will have gone around, with their scorecards (provided for you in the toolkit) and scored the booths with numbers 1-4, with 1 meaning “Needs More Effort”, 2 meaning “Has Potential”, 3 meaning “Great Idea”, and 4 meaning “Superstar” for the following three categories:
- Most Original
- Highest Business Potential
- Best Presentation
Three awards are given out for each of those in each of the four age groups, 6-7, 8-10, 11-12, 13-14. I tallied up the scores given by the judges and determined the winners that way. When there was a tie, we came together and discussed who deserved it more.
There are award certificate templates in the host’s toolkit to make it easy to give out the awards. As you hand out awards, you can also hand out any cash prizes, sponsor donations, T-shirts, or other gifts for the winners and other fair participants.
We also took a group photo at the end of the entrepreneurs altogether.
How Do You Submit the Fair Recap?
On the backend of your website, there is an area called “Post-Fair Reflection” where you will submit details about how many booths there were and how many people attended the event. You will give feedback, add images from the event, and can even book the following year’s fair!
Overall, our fair was small with only 6 booths, 9 entrepreneurs, and 50 or fewer customers. It was hot, humid, and mostly sunny, and we didn’t have tents. The children all brought their own tables. But, every booth had sales. Several of the children bought from each other. We got to know each other well as we waited around for people to come shop. We had a news reporter come, some ladies running for local office, and a 6th-grade business teacher, who was very interested in hosting a fair herself!
I don’t know a ton of people locally as we homeschool and we have only been in New York for two years. But, it was still a success and easy enough for me to do while doing all the other things I am doing as a busy mom of seven young kids, taking classes, finding a new home, and working.
If I can handle hosting an event, small, but good, chances are you can too! It doesn’t have to be extravagant, or “perfect.” It’s all about the young entrepreneurs and the hands-on practical learning experience they gain from starting, creating, operating, and marketing their own business!
I highly encourage you to see if there is a fair in your area and if there isn’t, to host one yourself! You can do so here.
Good luck to you and your creative, business-savvy young entrepreneurs.