Branding My State Fair to Lure Martha Stewart

by Meg Guiseppi on April 17, 2009

Marie Bernegger, Quilter Bee

Marie Bernegger, Quilter Bee (photo by Meg Guiseppi)


My dear friend Marie Bernegger (shown here in front of one of her beauties) and I have undertaken a grassroots campaign to convince Martha Stewart to visit our New Jersey State Fair, which is held in Sussex County in early August.

It was Marie’s idea to give it a try. How could it hurt to just ask? She solicited my wordsmithing to spin our Fair’s homespun brand to align with Martha’s own personal brand, and to grab her attention.

Marie is a professional quilter and a member of the Fair’s Home Economics Committee. She’s deeply involved with several community-supportive projects that are showcased each year at our Fair.

I think the letter is self-explanatory.

Dear Martha:

Did you know that about a one hour drive from New York City lands you smack dab in scenic, rural Sussex County, New Jersey – a farmlands retreat with rolling hills, glacial lakes, and lush greenery? We love our feeling of wide-open space around here.

The 2009 New Jersey State Fair, Sussex County Farm and Horse Show will be kicking it up from July 31 through August 9. We want you to come!

There is no other state Fair so close to the big Apple that is so old-fashioned, wholesome, tradition-driven, and fun. Our community has many proud farmers , an extremely active 4-H Club, and so much to offer.

When I think of celebrated crafty, animal-loving people who might enjoy our Fair, your name tops the list.

Sure, we’ve got the pie-eating contest, the chili contest, the tractor pull, and plenty of live entertainment. But look what else we’ve got:

 Many families show their farm animals, including rarities like Nigerian goats, Myotonic goats, miniature donkeys and horses, plus a whole array of lop-eared rabbits.

  Knowing how much you enjoy all types of animals, you surely would get a kick out of the “Open Show of the Poultry Fanciers of Sussex County”, in the Small Animal Pavilion. Last year we had 160 different classes of poultry. It’s here you’ll likely come across a 4-H’er being tested on various parts of chickens’ anatomy. The rooster crowing contest in the same building shouldn’t be missed.

  Our honey bee-handling demonstrations and honey competition draw people from beyond the tri-state area to our local beekeepers’ and apiarists’ wares.

  We have an impressive new conservatory and greenhouse where amateur and professional gardeners of all ages will be exhibiting their finest flowers and vegetables – some beautifully, some whimsically arranged.

  Artisans from the local Peter’s Valley Craft Center do a knockout blacksmithing demonstration, featuring ironworking such as hand-forged kitchen tools and decorative scrollwork.

  Statewide competition in the quilting category is fierce with talented quilters showing their stitching magic. I’m proud to say that I won best in show in 2006 and 2007. 

G R E A T    F O O D ! ! !

  Are you a kettle corn kind of person? Or do you prefer simply roasted Jersey fresh corn? We have both.

  I hear you’re a hot dog lover. Drop by the Newton Rotary’s Stand for “the Best of the Wurst” – German hot dogs, sausages, brats, and weiswurst.

  Step into the Richards Building where the home economics categories are showcased. Would you like to be a judge in the baking contest or gingerbread contest? Or how about the New Jersey’s Best Cheesecake contest or “The One and Only Blueberry Contest”, featuring blueberries in crafts and recipes?

  And don’t forget the “Jersey Fresh” tent for samples of local artisanal cheeses and other dairy delights.

Aside from all the fun, your visit would help increase awareness of our state Fair and bring attention to two special Fair events dear to my heart that deeply impact our local community and ripple outward:

  The Quilts of Valor program. A devoted, dedicated group of volunteers (including myself) have been quietly hand-crafting quilts for unknown recipients who have served our country. Would you like to help us make a lap quilt for a wounded soldier home from Iraq? This is what we often hear them say: “I can’t believe that someone who doesn’t even know me made me this quilt!”

  Each year I devise and deliver a sewing demonstration spotlighting a special technique, then sell the directions and turn over all proceeds to Project Self-Sufficiency of Sussex County, a local grassroots nonprofit agency providing critical services to lift impoverished, marginalized women and children out of the cycle of poverty.

This year, I’ll be demonstrating how to sew a napkin using a mitering technique I picked up from your Martha Stewart Living magazine years ago.

How can you resist?

The whole county is already geared up for this year’s activities. Your visit would certainly make this the most exciting year ever. Thanks so much for even considering visiting our very special Fair.

Warm regards,

Marie Bernegger
Member, The Home Economics Committee

Think we have a chance with Martha? Any suggestions on how to get her to come? Does this make you want to visit our Fair?



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marie Bernegger May 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm

I still haven’t heard back anything. Maybe I can start a Twitter campaign.

2 Meg Guiseppi May 27, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Darn, I was sure Martha would drop everything and run to the phone as soon as she got our special delivery letter!

A Twitter campaign probably wouldn’t hurt.

Thanks for commenting.


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