County of Marin - News Releases - Charlie Barboni Award

For Immediate Release
November 02, 2017

County Fair Manager Charlie Barboni a Hall of Famer

Western Fairs Association bestows its top individual honor

San Rafael, CA – Charlie Barboni, manager of the Marin County Fair and an influential fair contributor for more than four decades, has been appointed to the Western Fairs Association (WFA) Hall of Fame – the highest individual achievement in the county fair industry.

Charlie BarboniCharlie Barboni has helped grow the Marin County Fair's competitive exhibits to more than 14,000 entries from the community.
The County of Marin Department of Cultural Services announced the award, which is given for distinguished achievement or outstanding contribution by an individual to the fair industry. Barboni will be inducted into the hall during the WFA annual convention January 5, 2018, in Anaheim.

“Charlie truly embodies the qualities of someone who has grown up in and dedicated his entire life to the fair industry,” said Director of Cultural Services Gabriella C. Calicchio. “Charlie is immersed in the industry as a teacher, mentor, beloved manager, brilliant designer, and visionary, and has been for over 45 years.”

Barboni, a resident of Hicks Valley in West Marin, started his fair career with 4-H and then served as the youngest director for the Sonoma Marin Fair in 1976. He began his career at the Marin County Fair in 1972 organizing the fair’s first petting zoo sponsored by the Marin County Farm Bureau.

As the fair manager since 2015, he coordinates and supervises the competitive exhibits, which have won numerous WFA awards over the years. Under his leadership, the total number of exhibits has grown from 4,000 to more than 14,000 in nearly two decades. The program fully engages the community, highlighting the accomplishments of Marin residents from all walks of life.

Calicchio said Barboni has “developed and set the bar in the industry” for special events programs, agriculture events, community stage, and volunteer programs. He oversees the creative development, theme and brand to ensure our efforts in art, agriculture, and community engagement are carried out to the fullest. He assists in the development of the fair’s marketing and sponsorships and helps maintain community relations on the local, state, and national levels.

The Marin County Fair has won five WFA Merrill Awards (the highest award in the fair industry) during Barboni’s tenure along with hundreds of Achievement Awards, and his involvement was essential in earning every one of them.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Charlie for over a decade, and I have no doubt in my mind that he has made our county fair what it is today,” said Supervisor Judy Arnold, the President of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. “Charlie’s creativity and meticulous direction is the reason why the Marin County Fair has won a myriad of accolades over the years.”

During the past 20 years Barboni has prepared more than 1,400 entries (for five different fairs) for submission in the WFA Achievement Awards program. He has also been the recipient of the WFA Blue Ribbon Award and is a lifetime member of the organization.

In addition to his efforts at the Marin County Fair, Barboni also contributes to other fairs and festivals around Northern California on such tasks as exhibit design and installation, marketing and media campaigns, and special events programs. He has assisted at 17 fairs over the years including the Napa Town & County Fair, the Cloverdale Citrus Fair, and Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show. Barboni recently was appointed to the Fairs & Expositions Committee for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the state committee that provides fiscal and policy oversight of the network of fairs and ensures the best use of available funding and other services.


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