How much planning has gone into the 2010 Oklahoma State Fair?
Scott Munz' personal answer is "Twenty-three years."
That's how long the fair's current vice president of marketing and public relations has been involved in the state fair.
And in a way the process is continuous. The 2010 Oklahoma State Fair opens today, but Munz already is looking at existing concert tours to get an idea of entertainers he might want to sign for next year.
"You always want to know 'Who's the next big thing?'" Munz said.
Rewind for a minute to 2007.
Munz was given the name James Otto, who some described as "a country singer and songwriter with a Southern rock heart."
Munz signed him in November 2007 for the next year's state fair. As it turned out, Otto's "Just Got Started Lovin You" became the No. 1 song on Billboard's year-end 2008 hot country songs chart.
Typically the search will strengthen in late November to early December, when Munz meets with agents during the International Association of Fairs and Expositions convention in Las Vegas.
He said not a month goes by in which he isn't doing something related to the next state fair. Even though he doesn't release the talent lineup to the public until June, he likes to have it set by April 1. He does that to maintain a clause in the contract that gives the Oklahoma State Fair a 90-day protection and a 120-mile radius protection before that entertainer's appearance at the state fair.
"We don't want them playing too close, too soon because we want to try to keep that act special to the fair," he said.
And that's just one facet of what he does.
"I'm not saying I'm working five days a week, eight hours a day on just the fair in January or February," he said, "but I am working on it some because we start so early with the talent acquisition. We're doing our research, we're making offers, we're negotiating deals, we're working through contracts, so it always seems like some portion of my week is devoted to some aspect of the fair."
The fair's parent company, Oklahoma State Fair Inc., which has a state fair division and a State Fair Park division, has about 100 employees. That swells to about 500 during the fair. Munz is one of six vice presidents, each overseeing different areas. So while he talks about planning for entertainers, each of the other vice presidents and other employees plan throughout the year in their areas.
For instance, someone will meet with exhibitors while they are at this year's fair to see if they would like to leave a deposit showing their intent to return for next year.
"It is a year-round operation that takes a great team of people," Munz said.
IF YOU GO
Oklahoma State Fair
The 2010 Oklahoma State Fair runs today through Sept. 26 at State Fair Park, Interstate 44 and NW 10. Gates open at 8 a.m. daily. Exhibits open at 10 a.m.
General admission is $8 for adults, $5 for ages 6 to 11 and free for children 5 and younger.
• Monday, students through grade 12 will be admitted free.
• Tuesday, military personnel with military ID get in free, and everyone else pays $2.
• Wednesday, visitors age 55 and older with proof of age get in free.