How to Throw a Health Fair

Health fairs are an excellent way to kick off health programs, bring attention to health issues, or just promote healthier living. If you are interested in planning a health fair, Premier Community Health has helpful suggestions and a sample timeline to get you started. 

A few important tips:

  • Plan ahead
  • Have a committee to divide tasks and handle them effectively
  • Keep a notebook with all contact names and phone numbers, and use those contacts each year

Nine to 12 months before your event:

  • Form your committee, and include people from all levels of your group
  • Have a committee meeting to discuss why you want to have an event and who your target audience is (i.e., who you want to come
    to your fair)
  • Start to develop your budget, especially if you need it approved by a board
  • Set your date, time, and place
  • Put your date on the official activity calendar and book the room(s)
  • Ask local companies or congregation members for sponsorship money

Six to nine months before your event:

  • Decide what health screenings and displays you want to offer
  • Decide if you want speakers, and, if so, what topics you want them to cover
  • Invite potential speakers, screening organizations, health organizations, and other vendors to participate
  • Reserve a tent and any other large or unusual items such as signs, tumblers, and carnival rides
  • Plan children’s activities, if applicable, and book any necessary vendors or volunteers to handle activities (face painting, arts and crafts, physical activities, etc.)

Six months before your event:

  • Develop any necessary paperwork your event participants need to complete
  • Write down how you plan to promote your event, and assign committee members to each part of plan. This is one of the most important parts of planning your event. Here are some ideas for promoting your event:
    • Send a mailing to your members (postcards and letters are inexpensive)
    • Include an insert in your bulletin
    • Include an article in your newsletter (two issues is best)
    • Put information on a prominent sign
    • Send information to your local newspaper and television stations
    • Put flyers on doors in the neighborhood
    • Hang a banner on the building
    • Make yard signs
    • Put an ad in the paper
    • Make announcements during services or other programs

Having other activities during your health fair can boost attendance.

Here are some suggestions:

  • White Elephant sales
  • Healthy bake sales
  • Live music
  • Socials
  • Door prizes
  • Performers
  • Anything else you can think of—be creative!

Four months before event:

  • Order special items, such as t-shirts, volunteer gifts, or prizes so they arrive on time
  • Order specialty brochures, posters, and other vendor items
  • Make a list of the volunteers you need with a two-sentence description of their job responsibilities

Three months before your event:

  • Call a rental agency if you need to reserve any extra tables, chairs, easels, or other equipment
  • Send confirmation letters or emails to participating organizations, including set-up times, delivery arrangements, etc.
  • Begin soliciting for door prizes if you plan to offer
  • Begin recruiting volunteers by using the volunteer list
  • Send any special paperwork to your printer
  • Finalize mailing lists for any direct mail promotions (membership lists, etc.)
  • Send direct mail pieces (flyers or postcards) to printer
  • Book your date with a balloon designer if you plan to have balloon decorations

Two months before your event:

  • Order table covers and skirts, or buy them at a half-price card/paper shop
  • Finalize any newspaper advertisements
  • Plan the menu (if you plan to offer food)
  • Book your date with the caterer, or assign someone to purchase food
  • Begin general distribution of flyers or postcards
  • Recruit volunteers to help set up tables and chairs before the event
  • Recruit volunteers to help with the event “tear down”

One month before your event:

  • Send direct mail to homes
  • Send a press release to the local newspaper and television stations to attract outside visitors to your event
  • Finalize the map or event guide that will be distributed at your event
  • Send a confirmation letter to event volunteers and include their responsibilities and times to participate
  • Order your balloon or flower decorations
  • Three weeks before your event:
  • Finalize a list of signs needed
  • Send the map/event guide to printer

Two weeks before your event:

  • Send signs to printer
  • One week before your event:
  • Make sure all printing arrives and check it for errors
  • Send copy of floor plan to individuals responsible for set-up

Day before your event:

  • Have everything needed for the event shipped to the event site in the morning (tables, chairs, walkie-talkies, special booth set-ups, your supplies, skirts, table covers, signs, balloon decorations, flowers, etc.)
  • Have all tables and chairs set up
  • Have your committee convene at the site for pre-set up, such as skirting tables, hanging signs, placing supplies under appropriate tables, setting up large areas, decorating, etc.
    Pick up food if you are not having it delivered the day of your event 

The day of your event:

  • About 3 to 4 people should arrive a few hours early to finish setting up signs, decorating, and other details
  • Have volunteers help out as needed
  • Have a brief volunteer orientation about 45 minutes before the event begins
  • Have the facility open for exhibitor set up about two hours before your event 

The day after your event (or next business day):

  • Have all rented items returned or picked up
  • Within 1 one week after your event:
  • Send thank you letters to volunteers, vendors, committee members, donors, and other groups that helped (include an event evaluation and a stamped,self-addressed envelope for them to complete)

Within one month after your event:

  • Tabulate participant and volunteer evaluations
  • Have a committee wrap-up meeting to make recommendations for the following year
  • Send a summary of results to funders, including how many people attended, how many participated in screenings, results of evaluations, and your recommendations for future events

Start all over again!