Introduction

Cultural Services

Growing Healthy Events is Healthy Business

Join us on the adventure of creating an event that attracts guests, and excites vendors and sponsors, while bringing “healthy” to your community! It’s good for your community, and good for business.

A festival that is healthy, fun, smoke-free, and safe will attract individuals and families from across your community. Making these seemingly small changes are good business strategies – and can happen without negative impacts in attendance or profits.

No matter the season, reason, or age of your audience, major community events such as fairs and festivals can reap big benefits by making small changes with a wide impact. Guests, vendors, leaders, and your community are READY!

A healthy and family-friendly event will attract media attention, new community partners, innovative sponsors and other funding sources.

We’re not talking about eliminating turkey legs or cotton candy. It’s about celebrating what you’re already doing well and adding healthy choices. Addressing the wants and needs of your visitors makes every event a success. It is fun, sustainable, and a proven strategy - and creates a healthier, happy, memorable day.

This guide is based on the experience of the Marin County Fair in Northern California, which drew attention, partners and value by making a series of strategic changes. For more than 10 years, these steps have been shifting expectations of visitors to the fair.

This guide was created to make it easier for your community to make SMALL CHANGES that lead to CONTINUED SUCCESS.

These changes can be made at your event with similar healthy, happy and positive results.

And – most importantly – creating a healthier event is the right thing to do.

Patrons of the Marin County fair enjoying different activities.

Western Fairs Association & National Awards Recognitions include:

  • 2004 2nd Place for Community Outreach (Prevention Pavilion)
  • 2005 1st Place for Community Outreach (Prevention Pavilion)
  • 2006 1st Place for Incentive Programs For Business Partners (Healthy Food Choices) and 2nd Place for Community Outreach (Prevention Pavilion)
  • 2006 1st Place for Fair Sponsorship Involvement (Play Fair Pavilion and Moving Beyond Alcohol Sponsorships
  • 2007 Honorable Mention for Community Outreach (Prevention Pavilion)
  • 2007 2nd Place for Fair Sponsorship Involvement (Play Fair Pavilion and Prevention Pavilion)
  • 2013 & 2014 USDA SNAP Ed Grant
  • 2014 Western Fairs Association Blue Ribbon Award

Background

The Marin County Fair, Play Fair Marin and Healthy Marin Partnership have received numerous awards from the Western Fairs Association and national attention for addressing health and safety needs of its community in innovative creative ways.

The Marin County Fair and its community partners boldly and creatively partnered to tackle increasing medical problems and worsening health trends like obesity, alcohol abuse, and tobacco use in fun and culturally relevant ways by creating Play Fair Marin. In 2004 Play Fair Marin replaced an alcohol vendor as the title sponsor of the Marin County Fair. Fair guests were then greeted by the Play Fair banner (rather than beer advertisement) on arrival, and it’s been that way ever since. In 2005, the fair eliminated alcohol advertising altogether.

It was big news when the Marin County Fair became the first smoke-free fair in the nation. Volunteer health ambassadors helped direct smokers to special tents set up just for smokers right outside the fairgrounds. Nightly fireworks and carnival lights became the only things lighting up the night!

To address the community’s obesity problem, food vendors were required to add at least one nutritious (and tasty) choice to their menus, providing a healthier option for guests to enjoy. Guests could be seen eating healthy local and ethnic foods, corn on the cob, watermelon slices, vegetarian burritos, smoothies, and more. Bitsy bites, smaller versions of tasty treats like funnel cakes, reduced the portion and calories of other fair favorites. Noticing the popularity of healthy menu items, some food vendors even took their new items on the road to other festivals! How great is that?

Music, bright lights, and summer days made for tired babies. The fair’s Baby Sanctuary provided a restful place to care for infants with comfortable rocking chairs for breastfeeding. Diaper changing stations and activities for toddlers helped families spend more time enjoying the fair. For older kids – eager to run once they get through the gates – the 1K Fun Run was just the ticket.

The work of changing healthy practices at the Marin County Fair didn’t stop there. Bilingual youth and adult health ambassadors are always nearby with a healthy riddle, packs of sunscreen, and maps of the fairgrounds.

Play Fair Marin now includes more than a dozen community partners that continue finding new ways to make the Marin County Fair the healthiest and greenest fair on earth!