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A Community Partnership Model

Concerned about the health of the county, Marin community organizations have, since 2004, partnered with the Marin County Fair to create a culture that encourages fair visitors to make healthier choices, both at and after the Fair. Working together to address and change social norms, a healthier and more family-friendly environment at the Fair has been created through changes in policy, practices and voluntary measures related to alcohol, tobacco, access to healthy foods, physical activity and healthy living.

Eliminating Alcohol Sponsorship:
The Marin County Fair was the first fair in the nation to dump its beer sponsors in 2004. Assuring continuation of this initiative, this unique community sponsorship model made history in 2006 when the Marin County Board of Supervisors took the remarkable step of banning all alcohol sponsorships and advertising at the Marin County Fair. Why is all this important? Everyday young people are bombarded with advertisements promoting the consumption of alcohol on television, the radio, the internet, in magazines, and at community fairs and festivals.

Enforcing its “Smoke-Free” Ordinance:
The landscape of the Marin County Fair continued to change when, in 2007, the Marin County Board of Supervisors adopted a ban on smoking at any County facility. Again working through the strength of its community partners, the Marin County Fair was the first in the nation to effectively enforce such a ban, setting up “smoking tents” outside the borders of the fairgrounds, where smoking cessation materials were distributed.

Tasty Treats and Healthy Food Options:
Knowing that visitors yearn for the tasty treats associated with fairs, the Marin County Fair has lead the nation in requiring that all food vendors develop menus that include healthier options. Play Fair Marin and Healthy Marin Partnership have collaborated with food vendors to provide a diverse variety of healthy food choices ~ assuring items are prepared trans-fat free, served in biodegradable containers and represent the finest of cross-cultural cuisine.

Physical Activity and Healthy Living:
At the 2011 Marin County Fair we celebrated 1st Annual FUN 1K FUN RUN for kids under the age of 12. The run – once around the lagoon – was on KIDS’ DAY, with 65 runners cheered on as they ran passed the midway, around the lagoon and to the finish line at the Special Events Lawn, serving as models of healthy fun to their friends, families and fair-goers!


FLASH MOB AT THE FAIR! (Larger Version)
Saturday, July 2nd brought a surprise to the Fair – with a dashing Flash Mob performance. More than 85 singing and dancing “mobsters” suddenly appeared, and just as quickly disappeared, exciting fairgoers, highlighting the Marin County Fair as the family friendly fair it is and engaging Healthy Marin Partnership employees, family & friends in a new form of fun physical activity.

Baby Sanctuary
In Marin County bringing baby to the fair is easy. In 2009 Play Fair partners hosted its first Baby Sanctuary – a place for parents with infants to connect and rest. With comfortable chairs for feeding and snuggling, changing stations, water and healthy snacks for moms – the Baby Sanctuary changes the definition of what it means to be Family Friendly.


What We’ve Achieved:
In fact, the efforts of Marin County Fair and its partners to change the culture and social norms of the Fair have been so groundbreaking that both Marin County and the Marin County Fair have received numerous awards and recognition for this effort, including achievement awards from the Western Fair Association. Working together as a community that supports the health of its residents, the Marin County Fair has:

The Play Fair partnership consists of ten sponsoring organizations and over fifty partnering organizations. Sponsors include: Bay Area Community Resources, First 5 Marin Children and Families Commission, Healthy Marin Partnership, Huckleberry Youth Programs, Marin County Health and Human Services, Marin Community Foundation, Marin County Office of Education, Marin County Board of Supervisors, the Marin Institute, and the Youth Leadership Institute.