Don't want to miss anything at this year's Jackson County Fair? There's an app for that.
Designed by Ashland's Project A and awaiting approval from the Apple App Store, the app should be available while the fair runs from July 15 to 20 at The Expo.
The app will include daily weather forecasts, a planning calendar with alerts to certain events, the ability to rate vendors and performances, and a camera program that can put digital frames on shots.
"We wanted to make it the best iPhone app ever for a county fair, state fair or even music festivals," said Jim Teece of Project A. "I'm pretty proud of it."
Teece, who serves on the Jackson County Fair Board, donated the time and resources to build the free app. An estimate of what it would have cost to build was not available, but he believes it would have been "significant."
"I know it's a very innovative thing he's created," said Fair Board President Chris Smith. "It's going to be extraordinary."
The release of the app will be somewhat of a test to see whether fairgoers use it, Teece said. He added its design is modeled, in part, after large music festivals such as the Coachella Valley Art and Music Festival in Southern California and others that have their own apps to navigate acts and see schedules.
"I'm really trying to create a more festival-like experience," he said.
A key function of the app is planning. It's designed so users can tag all events and shows they want to attend, which adds them to a calendar.
"Every 4-H event, every vendor that's there, you're able to flag them," Teece said. "You're kind of building your own itinerary."
Project A recently took on a Jackson County Fair website redesign to make the site more smartphone-friendly. The changes to www.attheexpo.com came after Teece viewed Web traffic and saw a majority of users accessed it from mobile devices.
The digital upgrades come just a few months after Jackson County's Board of Commissioners decided to stop funneling general fund dollars to the facility. In December 2013, the board tentatively forgave about $300,000 in debt The Expo had accrued since 2011 but said the fair must be self-sustaining moving forward.
The Expo whittled its budget by reducing employee hours and cutting the number of days it was open during the winter months. Fair officials have said they also attained sponsorships in recent months.
"They've tightened their belt, I think, about as much as they can," said Commissioner John Rachor, adding he's been impressed with the recent success of programs like the Harvest Fair. "I see them slowly coming out of this hole."
— Ryan Pfeil