So much is going on around the Eastern States Exposition to get ready for The Big E which opens in 15 days. The Marketing department, where I am, has been busy promoting the Fair and the entertainment. But our department doesn’t deal directly with the entertainers, and we thought everyone might like to hear from the person who does.
The man who has the job everyone wants, John Juliano, books the talent that comes to The Big E, and that can be some BIG name performers that he gets to work with. His official title is Special Events Director which includes talent buyer. However, just because the talent is booked doesn’t mean his job goes on hold. Right now, just 15 days before the first show, JJ is promoting the concerts, monitoring ticket sales, and tracking down managers. The managers still need to give him information on what these stars need: the sound and lighting, transportation, accommodations such as food and hotel rooms. JJ deals with so many details that tend to be last minute and can be quite stressful, but he wouldn’t change a minute of it.
What kind of last minute details does he deal with you might ask? Well, just two years ago when Brad Paisley was coming to the Comcast Arena Stage, JJ ran into a small fiasco with the stage. At that time, Paisley was touring with a brand new $3 million video wall that was quite the display. About 2 weeks before the Fair, JJ found out that Paisley was bringing this new screen that, come to find out, was TOO heavy to hang from the roof of the Comcast Arena Stage, and Paisley would not perform without the screen. JJ and his team had to scramble to find a roof that would support the screen and could be installed within two weeks. They found a company in Georgia that built and installed a roof before the beginning of the Fair. The roof went up and Brad Paisley performed on the first Sunday of the 2006 Fair. One day and thousands of dollars later, the roof came down and the old one was put back up. All in a days work for Mr. Juliano.
But JJ’s job is not just damage control. He gets to meet some down to earth stars and their teams, where some great memories are born. A recent memory that he shared with me took place last year when Trace Atkins came to the fair. Before concert time, an incognito Trace Atkins, who wore a baseball cap and dark sunglasses, toured the fair taking time to see all of the little aspects of The Big E. JJ found it amazing that a big star like Atkins would take the time to see our Fair and that he was there all day but no one knew. (You never know, if you’re here on concert day, who you’ll run into.)
After September 28, when the fair is over, JJ will begin to look for next year’s talent. His job involves keeping up on every genre of music and looking for the next big hit. Last year The Big E hosted DAUGHTRY, Trace Adkins, and Montgomery Gentry to name a few. JJ said that his secret to continuing to provide great shows is to not book the same talent the following year. That’s why this year The Big E will host Fergie, Natasha Bedingfield, Sugarland, Jordin Sparks, LeAnn Rimes, and Jason Aldean, to name a few. After these shows, he will continue to watch MTV, CMT and VH1; he will search online and talk to people of all age groups to see what music people are into. Next year he will bring a whole new flavor to the Fair. He’s been doing it for 25 years and loves every changing minute of it.
Keep checking back here and leave questions for JJ as stars arrive and the Fair unfolds.