Wisconsin State Fair Park (WSFP) is a 200-acre Fair Park and leading year-round venue for agricultural, sports, entertainment, cultural, and educational events. Home to the Exposition Center, Milwaukee Mile Speedway, and historic buildings that are more than 100 years old, like the Grand Champion Hall and Cattle Barn, the park welcomes an estimated 2 million attendees annually.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Wisconsin State Fair 2020 event, Harvest Fair, and 130 other public and private events were canceled. In October 2020, WSFP opened an Alternative Care Facility that served as an overflow facility for hospitals across the state and was active through mid-February 2021. A safe reopening for events would require methodical planning and buy-in at all levels of the organization for cleaning and hygiene protocols.
“Our park is ever evolving; we are constantly seeking to improve our equipment, techniques, and education,” said April Walton, Janitorial Program Manager for the Wisconsin State Fair Park. “Keeping staff and their families safe was critical, as was considering how spaces needed to be maintained.”
The park’s mission for continual improvement led to the discovery of GBAC STAR™ Facility Accreditation, a performance-based program for facilities of all types and sizes from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council™ (GBAC), a Division of ISSA. The program includes quality management system principles and requires participating facilities to showcase compliance with 20 elements like program controls and monitoring, tools and equipment, a worker health program, and more.
WSFP educated staff on how to execute cleaning, and event managers on how to promote GBAC STAR accreditation to let promotors and vendors know how seriously the park takes safety.
The marketing department also helped convey the importance of the accreditation via social media and a consumer-facing campaign.
“In addition to achieving GBAC STAR accreditation, we worked with local health experts to align with CDC guidance and effectively communicate our cleaning protocols to the communities we serve,” added Walton. “These efforts helped ease people’s minds and support the 2021 motto of ‘Safe, Clean, Fun’ at the park.”
Achieving GBAC STAR accreditation has enabled Wisconsin State Fair Park to:
Assess risk and set a standard for cleaning. Accreditation required the Facilities Department to focus on risk management and organize key documents in one place. Says Walton, “We had to determine what is and isn’t important in the process of how we clean and agree on what needed to be the standard in our buildings and on the grounds.”
Successfully implement new hygiene and cleaning tools. In response to COVID-19, WSFP placed hand sanitizer stations throughout the park and added new technologies like Clorox 360 and Victory electrostatic sprayers. The accreditation process allowed WSFP to outline proper use of these tools. Their adoption helped ensure another level of protection for guests and clients.
Build confidence among customers. GBAC STAR accreditation allows WSFP to better communicate the story about the importance of maintaining clean facilities. As a result, this instills greater confidence in promoters and attendees that the park is operating a safe, clean, and fun facility. Feedback from vendors and visitors about the cleaning standards has been overwhelmingly positive.
Enhance appreciation for custodial staff. According to Walton, accreditation has helped people recognize that custodians truly are professionals in what they do. Because WSFP understands that staff must be invested in their roles for the program to work effectively, it focuses on training and regularly re-training employees. This helps them uphold a consistent standard of cleanliness that has a positive impression on visitors and in turn keeps cleaning professionals motivated to do their best work.
“Our effort to continuously improve is buoyed by the GBAC STAR Accreditation process, as it requires continuous analysis of process and results,” said Walton. “We follow the science, continue to learn every day, and know how to respond to biorisk situations. As a result, Wisconsin State Fair Park is a safe, clean, and fun place to host events.”
For more information about Wisconsin State Fair visit: https://wistatefair.com/wsfp