Changes Coming for Marin County Fair This Summer

Even as Covid-19 vaccines are distributed throughout California, the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic’s immediate future is forcing many summertime events and gatherings to delay or change their plans for the second year in a row.

One of those events is the popular Marin County Fair, which virtually celebrated Marin’s art, agriculture, and community last summer, and which will look a little different when it returns for 2021. 

The Marin County Department of Cultural Services recently announced that it is unable to plan a full-scale fair due to the need for a vaccination dispensing location at the Marin Center facility in San Rafael.

Since the Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, Exhibit Hall, and Showcase Theater are in use for the pandemic response for the foreseeable future, Cultural Services is planning a much smaller and safer alternative for fair-going families this summer.

Plans will include a drive-through fair food event, a modified online competitive exhibits program, a special day of surprises on the Fourth of July, and more to come. Cultural Services will share further details  in the coming months.  

Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer, noted that the Marin Center complex has served as a location of a drive-through COVID-19 testing site, an emergency alternate care site for ill patients, and now a coronavirus vaccination clinic.

“The fairgrounds have been serving our community in a different way throughout the pandemic,” he says in a statement. “In the past few months, tens of thousands of people have received vaccination doses there. Our fair has always promoted health and well-being for our community and has won major awards for being the healthiest fair. Consistent with that, it’s best that we not gather for a fair this year. Last year’s virtual fair was a big success as people had fun while adhering to public health guidelines on social distancing, so I hope it’s successful again this summer.”

Last year’s virtual version of the Marin County Fair featured several social media events and online contests, and the fair’s social media pages experienced dramatic increases in viewership and participation. At the beginning of this year, the Marin County Cultural Services staff won 12 awards from the Western Fairs Association for its virtual 2020 fair.

“We are eagerly awaiting community-wide vaccinations to be able to celebrate the arts, the Marin County Fair, and the myriad cultural events that take place year-round on our Marin Center campus,” says Gabriella Calicchio, Director of Cultural Services, in a statement. “We miss the fair just as much as the rest of our community, but we hope to offer a little fair fun this summer while keeping everyone safe and healthy. Meanwhile, we thank everyone for their continued support of the Marin County Fair.”  

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Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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