County of Marin - News Releases - County Fair Theme 2016

For Immediate Release
November 09, 2015

Marin County Fair Theme for 2016: What A Ride!

County eager to celebrate 75th fair from June 30 to July 4

San Rafael, CA – Marin County will celebrate its 75th Marin County Fair themed What A Ride! from June 30 to July 4, 2016.

Five men pose with C3PO and R2D2 droids from the 'Star Wars' movies at the 1988 Marin County Fair.Five men pose with C3PO and R2D2 droids from the 'Star Wars' movies at the 1988 Marin County Fair.
Held at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin Center and Fairgrounds in San Rafael, the 2016 Marin County Fair will reflect back on the 75 (non-consecutive) years of the beloved summer event while looking forward as a leader in the fair industry, celebrating art, agriculture and community.

The fair will showcase historic milestones with a special exhibition co-curated by Fair Manager Charlie Barboni and Librarian Laurie Thompson from the Anne T. Kent California Room at the Marin County Free Library. The exhibition will feature historic photographs, press coverage, anecdotes and more dating back to the first Marin County Fair and Harvest Festival in 1925.

The theme What A Ride! refers to the 75-year history, nostalgia, carnival rides, and other fair-going experiences. It also refers to the Hunter S. Thompson quote, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”

The 2016 fair will also feature long-time fair favorites alongside new attractions, highlighting what residents love most about their local fair. For years, the Marin County Fair has reflected the county in all of its colorful traditions and innovations. Its farm animals, family activities, popular concerts, thrilling rides, leading-edge exhibits, and spectacular fireworks displays each night have made the fair one of the Bay Area’s favorite and anticipated summer events.

“Fast-paced, forward-thinking and always on the fast track of cultural developments, we strive to offer first-caliber everything from the arts, technology, facilities, learning, exhibits and unique programs found nowhere else in the nation,” said Gabriella C. Calicchio, the Director of the Department of Cultural and Visitor Services. “The Marin County Fair combines classic fair exhibits with innovative new ideas. Add to that, one-of-a-kind events, cuisines both local and global, welcoming staff, cultural diversity and a rich history and legacy. This is the reputation and brand that the Marin County Fair has built over the past 75 years and I look forward to carrying that tradition forward to next 75 years.”

Timeline Highlights from the Marin County Fair

1879: The Marin County Journal calls for a Marin County Fair: “There is a general feeling that we should have a fair of our own.” W.T. Coleman plans a fairgrounds and racetrack in San Rafael.

1925: The first Marin County Fair and Harvest Festival was held September 18-20 on a large property at the corner of Redwood Highway and Grant Avenue in Novato.

1946: The first Marin Art and Garden Fair held September 20-22 on the eight-acre site of the former Kittle estate in Ross, newly organized as the Marin Art and Garden Center.

1956: The County government purchased 140 acres from the Scettrini family and plans for the property to become the Marin County Civic Center campus. Of the 140 acres, 80 were purchased through the use of State of California fair funds earmarked for the Marin County Fair at the cost of $275,056.

1971: Led by Marcelle McCoy and architect Aaron Green, the fair moved from the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross to the fairgrounds at Marin County Civic Center.

1988: The fair hosted an interactive exhibit called the Magic of Lucasfilm, which featured models, memorabilia and costumes from “Star Wars” and received national television coverage. The fair set an all-time attendance record of 130,000.

1995: The fair won its first of four Louis Merrill Awards from Western Fairs Association as the top, most innovative county fair and Sweepstakes Award for creative management.

2000: The fair starts recycling services with Marin Conservation Corps (now Conservation Corps North Bay).

2006: The Marin County Board of Supervisors adopted a policy to prohibit alcohol beverage marketing and sponsorships, a first for fairs nationwide, and the fair became the first smoke-free county fair in North America.

2015: The fair celebrates its 75th anniversary with a theme of What A Ride!

The competitive exhibits program will feature some 800 new and returning exhibits ranging from fine arts and crafts, photography, flowers, art chairs and dairy cows.

As always, the Marin County Fair prides itself on being the Greenest County Fair on Earth with its solar-powered carousel and stage, a commitment to water conservation and 93.4 percent of waste diverted to compost and recycling.

The Department of Cultural and Visitor Services plans to debut its 2016 Marin County Fair website by December 31, 2015.


Gabriella C. Calicchio
Department of Cultural Services

Marin Center
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6400
Email: Gabriella C. Calicchio
Cultural Services Website