County of Marin - News Releases - County Fair Awards

For Immediate Release
January 28, 2019

Marin County Fair Wins Coveted Merrill Award

2018’s ‘All for One & Fun for All’ celebrated by Western Fairs Association

San Rafael, CA – For an unprecedented sixth time, the Marin County Fair has won the Merrill Award, the most prestigious and coveted award by the Western Fairs Association (WFA), solidifying the event’s national reputation for excellence and innovation.

Several dancers wear African costumes as they perform in front of drummers at a past Marin County Fair.The fair was honored for its theme that promoted equity, diversity and inclusion.
The 2018 fair, All for One & Fun for All!, captured award at the WFA Annual Industry Awards Celebration on January 23 in Reno, Nevada, for its theme of equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Marin County Fair also won 34 individual achievement awards, more than any other fair.

The WFA, a 150-member trade association representing fairs in the western United States and Canada, recognizes excellence in the fair industry at its convention and provides a forum for fairs to share successful ideas and programs. The Merrill Award, named in honor of WFA founder Louis Merrill, is given to fairs that clearly demonstrate innovation, vision, and excellence.

“At the Marin County Fair, we don’t care what your country of origin is, what color skin you have, what your religious or political beliefs are, we care about creating a safe space for everyone to leave their worries behind and have fun,” said Director of Cultural Services Gabriella C. Calicchio. “The All for One & Fun for All! theme was developed in response to and recognition of the growing diversity in our community. From creating global programming and diversifying the judging panels to translating the fair website into six languages and partnering with Out at the Fair to celebrate the LGBTQ community, the Marin County Fair truly celebrates everyone in our community and beyond.”

The 2018 Marin County Fair also won both WFA Featured Awards for Cultural Marketing Strategy and new Cultural Program that supported the All for One & Fun for All! theme. In addition, the fair garnered 21 First Place awards, seven Second Place awards and six Third Place awards. Awards included accolades for agriculture programming, virtual reality, interim events (80 Over 80 art exhibit at the Bartolini Gallery), fair radio advertising in Spanish and English, and fair sponsorships just to name a few.

“We’re tremendously proud that our fair won the Merrill Award this year for cultural programming and more awards overall than any other fair in the entire competition,” said Fair Manager Charlie Barboni. “We work hard all year to ensure our fair not only stands out in the industry but also reflects the values, innovation, and dedication of our own community.”

The 78th annual Marin County Fair, themed Over the Moon!, will be held July 3-7, 2019. Visit for more information.


2018 Marin County Fair Award-Winning Entries from the Western Fairs Association:


Featured Program Awards

First Place, Outstanding Achievement – Cultural Marketing Campaign

First Place, Outstanding Achievement – New Cultural Program


Individual Achievement Awards

First Place          

New Cultural Program – All for One & Fun for All!

Cultural Marketing Campaign – All for One & Fun for All!

Any Other Advertising – translated into six languages

Give it Your Best Shot – Animals

Agricultural Programming

Crisis Management (possibility of Marin County employees strike)

Volunteer Management

Radio Advertising – series (English and Spanish)

Radio Advertising – single ad

Outdoor Advertising – Bus Backs/Bus Stops/Freeway Billboard

Special Event Logo – Arts Culture Action Marin

New Community Outreach Program – Out at the Fair (celebrating the LGBTQ+ community)

New Exhibits Competition – All for One & Fun for All! theme contests

New Event, Exhibit, or Program – Virtual Forest (virtual reality)

New Sponsorship Program – Mezzetta Blue Ribbon Stage   

New Innovative Use of Technology – FilmFreeway (international film and video entries)

Interim Events – 80 Over 80 Exhibit (juried exhibit showcasing artworks by artists over the age of 80)

Printed Marketing Campaign – newspaper and magazine ads

Social Media Campaign

Television Advertising – series

Digital Marketing Campaign


Second Place      

Television Advertising – single ad

Nonprofits – Marin Cultural Association Wine & Beer Garden

Theme program – All for One & Fun for All!

New Children’s Program – Youth Poster Contest

Guest Services – (mobile compatible website)

Event Within an Event – Global Stage

Interim Event Rental Innovative Marketing Strategy – monthly email newsletter


Third Place

Year-Round Logo – Marin County Fair

Give it Your Best Shot – Carnival

Inspiring Collaboration – partnership

Fair time Innovative Marketing Strategy – partnership with County of Marin Leadership Academy for Marin County demographic study

Fair Pocket Program/Schedule

Fair time Commemorative Poster


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