DATA COLLECTION & EVALUATION AT GARDEN FESTIVALS, FAIRS, & EXPOS
Situation: Garden festivals are a common outreach activity among Residential Horticulture programs, but collecting data from these events can be difficult and time consuming to both record and evaluate. Annually, the UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County Gardening Expo has drawn between 500-1000 residents, but no information on the impact of this event was gathered in the past. One objective for the 2017 Expo was to find an easy way to record economic and educational impacts of the event for vendors and residents. Methods: Three methods were used to increase data collection and evaluation opportunities at this event. First, 30/42 vendors donated a prize item, which they kept at their booths. Residents received five prize tickets for the items after filling out a contact information sheet and checking whether they wanted to be surveyed. Second, vendors completed a survey on the effectiveness of Expo. Third, a Qualtrics survey was developed to send out to Expo attendees with questions on which workshops they attended, how much they spent, and asking if they gained knowledge on Florida gardening practices, using volunteers to input collected contact data into a spreadsheet. Results: Of the 1300 residents recorded entering the Expo, 600 turned in their contact information to the Prize Booth. 72% of residents agreed to be surveyed, and Qualtrics surveying is currently ongoing. Volunteers have input 200 contacts per week from collected contact sheets. 96% of vendors plan to return next year and 100% thought having a prize item at their booth was an effective draw for customers. Conclusion: Garden festivals can have an economic impact for small businesses. Data entry of resident information is time consuming and could be streamlined in the future by directing residents to pre-register for free prize tickets on Eventbrite.com.