The carnival lawn and barns stayed empty for the annual Sonoma-Marin Fair, due to public health concerns regarding COVID-19. Smells and sounds of the usual fair were sorely missed, but the judges, staff and selection committees were hard at work behind closed doors and in home offices across the state.
“The mission of the Sonoma-Marin Fair is to promote agriculture while showcasing the talents, interests, and accomplishments of the residents of Marin and Sonoma counties,” says Dr. Allison Keaney, CEO of the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds. “Despite not being able to hold a full fair for the public, we wanted to continue to fulfill our mission. So, we transitioned to online entries and virtual evaluations for exhibits and leadership awards, with the willingness of our award sponsors, exhibits sponsors and judges to move forward.”
Selection committees for leadership awards and scholarships interviewed applicants using video conferencing and are pleased to announce the following recipients:
• President's Cup, Outstanding FFA Exhibitor - Derrick Pomi, Petaluma FFA
• Director's Cup, Outstanding 4-H Exhibitor - Taylor Boothe, Indian Valley 4-H
• W.L. "Pappy" Norton Perpetual Award - Samantha Gambonini, Petaluma FFA.
• Andy Azevedo Perpetual Trophy - Meghan Hill, Two-Rock 4-H
• Max L. Herzog Memorial Scholarship: Lucas Cheda, Petaluma FFA & Amanda King, Petaluma FFA
• George Grossi Future Leader Award:Lucas Cheda, Petaluma FFA & Amanda King, Petaluma, FFA
• Leroy & Pat Cheda Memorial Award - Amanda King, Petaluma FFA
• Howard Clementino Memorial Milk Barn Scholarship - Lucas Cheda, Petaluma FFA
• Jim R. Underwood Memorial Award - Kayla Ficco, Sebastopol FFA
• Mildred Petersen Perpetual Award - Taylor Boothe, Indian Valley 4-H
• Charles H. Sovel Perpetual Trophy - Meghan Hill, Two-Rock 4-H
• Florence & Patrick Dickey Perpetual Trophy - Michael Sittenauer, Sequoia 4-H
Though the exhibit halls and barns were eerily quiet and bare, over 2000 entries for woodworking, sewing, floral design, photography, pigs, cows, chickens and rabbits were submitted with photos and videos. These digital documents were organized and sent to judges who would normally walk through the halls examining each exhibit, or stand in the show ring and carefully study each animal.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” said sheep judge Pat Ariaz. “But, I commend you all for making this available.”
Results from judges are still being tallied and results will be announced through Facebook and on the Fair’s website. Exhibitors will be able to pick up their awards through a contactless process on July 7, 8 and 9.
During the five-day Fair (June 24-28), virtual fairgoers were able to access fair activities and agricultural connections online. A daily schedule of crafts, special contests, and fun-at-home activities were made available at sonoma-marinfair.org and on the Fair’s mobile app, Grandstand Events and Guides. Each day also showcased an agricultural commodity, provided a “farm-to-table” recipe and guided visitors to a local ag producer.
Music is always an important part of the fair and each day of the daily schedule highlighted a local band and the Petaluma Music Festival, which the Sonoma-Marin Fair is happy to continue to be a Presenting Sponsor of. The Petaluma Music Festival works tirelessly every year to ‘keep music in the schools,’ so don’t miss their Virtual Festival on Saturday, August 1 at petalumamusicfestival.org.
Some of the most enjoyable highlights of the Sonoma-Marin Virtual Fair were the daily contests for limericks, memes, dog costumes and a rooster crowing. Contest winners received two tickets to the 2021 Sonoma-Marin Fair and a tiny slice of fame.
Cars and Coffee at the Fair, a newer Sonoma-Marin Fair event, was preserved with a new spin this year. Instead, a Drive-Thru and Cruise, sponsored by the Cruisn’ North Car Club and Petaluma Speedway, offered classic car enthusiasts an opportunity to patronize local drive-thru restaurants and thank the front-line workers fighting COVID-19. Participants assembled at the fairgrounds, after grabbing lunch, to coordinate the cruise before setting out to visit Petaluma fire stations, Cal Fire, Petaluma Police and the Petaluma Valley Hospital.
The Virtual Fair daily schedule and its offerings will remain available through July. The Sonoma-Marin Fair is grateful to its sponsors (AmericanAg Credit, Clover Sonoma, Exchange Bank, Redwood Credit Union, and Sobel Communications) for making this virtual event possible. Stay tuned for announcements and more fun to come in 2021 with the Sonoma-Marin Fair, June 23 – 27.