A Timeline of the Marin County Fair: From Past to Present

The award-winning Marin County Fair is the County’s premier community event with over 120,000 attendees annually. Here’s a timeline of one of the oldest fairs around, clocking in at almost a century and a half of fairground fun.


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.


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, Novato.


The first Marin Art and Garden Fair was 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.


Marin County Fair

140 acres were purchased by the County of Marin from the Scettrini family for the property of 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.


Marin County Fair

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.


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


Won first of six Louis Merrill Awards from Western Fairs Association as top, most innovative county fair and Sweepstakes Award for Creative Management.


Won second Louis Merrill Award. Fair theme was The Wheel Stuff. 


Marin County Fair starts recycling services with Marin Conservation Corps (now Conservation Corps North Bay).


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


Won third Merrill Award. Fair theme was Aquatic Adventures.


Won fourth Merrill Award. Fair them was The Greenest County Fair on Earth. 


Kids Tractor Pull at the Fair.

Marin County Fair celebrates its 75th anniversary — What a Ride! Won fifth Merrill Award for Healthy Fair Initiative, a collaboration between the fair, Marin County Health and Human Services (HHS) and Kaiser Permanente.


The 2018 fair, All for One & Fun for All!, captured its sixth Merrill Award for the theme of equity, diversity, and inclusion.


Over the Moon theme celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Fair won a World Record for largest moonwalk dance celebrating the theme. 


Fair canceled due to Covid-19 pandemic. 


Fair returns for outdoor only activities. 


Electrifying theme announced for indoor and outdoor fair. 

Firsts at the Marin County Fair:

Marin County Fair
  • First fair to have a solar powered carousel
  • First fair to become 100% smoke-free banning smoking on the fairgrounds
  • First fair to have hip hop and break dance competition 
  • First fair to focus on waste diversion (92% waste diversion rate at the fair)
  • The Marin County Fair has a tradition of winning multiple first place awards in categories ranging from competitive exhibits, marketing, and programming from the Western Fairs Association. 
  • Major musical acts have included Huey Lewis and the News, Weird Al Yankovic, Kool and the Gang, Sheila E., Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, The Beach Boys, Michael Franti and more.