Play Fair

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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.

The Healthy Events 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.

The 16 page Healthly Events Guide is available for downloading!

The recent The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking included a number of strategies that, as stated in the report, “can contribute to a culture that discourages adults from providing alcohol to minors and that supports an adolescent's decision not to drink”. Specifically, the report recommended that communities “work with sponsors of community or ethnic holiday events to ensure that such events do not promote a culture in which underage drinking is acceptable”.

In Marin County, California, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, a group of concerned community organizations have been working with the Marin County fair since 2004 to implement this very recommendation. In fact, the Marin County Fair was the first fair in the nation to dump its beer sponsors. 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.

The Play Fair partnership is made up of a wide-variety of public and private partners all concerned with the health and safety of young people. This year’s partnership has grown to eleven organizations and includes: Bay Area Community Resources, Center Point, Inc., 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.

Play Fair promotes safe and healthy habits by showcasing the wide variety of organizations working with young people and the community,” said Rene Sayles, an advocate with the Youth Leadership Institute who, along with a number of other youth and community partners, led the charge with the Marin County Board of Supervisors to ban alcohol sponsorship at the County Fair. “These organizations have rallied together to support their common goal: a healthy future for all young people."

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. In fact, youth under the age of 21 are often more likely to see marketing for alcohol products than adults. This is particularly concerning because new research shows that exposure to alcohol marketing influences young people’s decision to drink.

This year, Play Fair has expanded its mission focused solely on alcohol-control to “engaging communities by reducing youth overexposure to the marketing and promotion practices of the alcohol, tobacco, and fast food industries at community events in Marin County.”

Before: Alcohol Industry sponsorship and promotion took over the dining tent

After: Play Fair now sponsors this family Friendly environment.

“Our expanded mission reflects how important we think these issues are for our youth,” explained Pat Kendall, Medical Group Administrator for Kaiser San Rafael and the Chair of the Healthy Marin Partnership which also sponsors the Prevention Pavilion at the Fair. “We’ve come together from alcohol, tobacco and nutrition initiatives to fight the pervasive presence of unhealthy marketing to our kids and in our community.

In fact, Play Fair sponsorship was so groundbreaking that both Marin County and the Marin County Fair have received numerous awards and recognition for this effort, including an achievement award from the Western Fair Association. “The messages we adults send about alcohol have a huge impact on youth decision-making about alcohol use,” said Maureen Sedonaen, founder and president of the Youth Leadership Institute. “Play Fair’s work at our county fair not only helps young people now, but will help shape community values and messages for future generations.”

To learn more about Play Fair or to get involved, visit  or contact Gary Najarian at 415-499-4230.