Some businesses are able to welcome more patrons, students are returning to school and places like movie theaters are operating again. For fairgrounds, not much has changed. Larger fairs in "orange tier" counties are sharing that they will be able to open their fairs this year. That is great news! For the Sonoma-Marin Fair, which is smaller and operating in a "red tier" county, things are a little different. Our situation is more similar to the Dixon Mayfair, Solano County Fair, and the Marin County Fair, who are all moving forward with virtual fairs this year.
This year, the world is a bit brighter. Our mission is the same, but we are working on plans to bring exhibits back in front of judges, for more thorough evaluation and a better experience for the exhibitor. There is no "blueprint" for this type of activity, so we are working closely with the County of Sonoma on our exhibits plan. We are hopeful that together, we will have a program that is safe, in-person, and distanced. If not, we will hold our exhibits program virtually as we did last year.
Livestock: Our plan consists of one-day grading activities, held in the overflow parking lot at the front of the Fairgrounds. Exhibitors will come in, be assigned a designated parking area for their car and trailer, then be called to the ring at the appropriate time. Exhibitors will go home as soon as they are finished. For safety, these grading events will be spread out over the course of 6 to 9 days. We are fortunate to have Paulette Swallow with us this year, managing the livestock exhibits program. Details for this plan will be shared on our website, pending County approval.
Still Exhibits: Our goal is to ensure that all still exhibits are made available for judging "in person." Exhibitors will drop off their exhibits for curb-side delivery to the Main Exhibit Building. Exhibits will be set out and judges will come in to evaluate the exhibits. The plan does not include public access, but a walk-through video will be filmed to share on social media. Karyn and Larry Pulley will oversee the management of the Still Exhibits area. Details for this plan will be shared on our website, pending County approval.
Exhibitors will notice some major changes when they see the Guidebook. Some sections will be missing and some classes may be missing. In order to provide the most manageable, economical, and safe program, we suspended some sections and classes this year. Rest assured these are not permanent changes but will help us to provide the best exhibits program we can.
Another major change exhibitors will notice is the removal of premiums and cash awards from the guidebook. Without ticket revenue from the Fair, it is difficult to cover the costs of both cash awards and ribbons/rosettes, even with outside contributions. Fortunately, we have many generous donations from the community, and we will be able to provide some "Best of Show" awards that winners will be thrilled to receive. We did not publish these amounts for Best of Show in the book like we normally do, because many categories receive no entries. We will manage our awards budget based on the entries we receive with the goal of providing prizes that support exhibitors to continue to develop their talents, skills and interests. We are looking forward to surprising you!
Like so many other situations, our plans remain "fluid." While we offered a "virtual" fair last year, this year is more of a "hybrid." We hope to have our "in person" exhibits program approved and look forward to more fun with four weekends of Drive Thru Fair Food. After the fair, we'll see the return of drive-in movies, and maybe the addition of a drive-in concert! It makes sense then, that our 2021 "Hybrid" Fair Theme is "Moovin' On." Visits to the fairgrounds this year have been mostly enjoyed from our vehicles. 2020 took us on roads never before travelled, sometimes gripping the steering wheel pretty hard! Now in 2021 we have the map, the weather is clearing, and we are able to read the road signs much better.
The road ahead looks promising, and we are fortunate to have you all along for the ride. Let's go!
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