What Makes County Fair’s Unique?

What Makes County Fair’s Unique?

County Fair Definitions:

According to Webster: a fair usually held annually at a set location in a county especially to exhibit local agricultural products and livestock.

Wikipedia’s definition of Fairs: A fair (archaic: faire or fayre) is a gathering of people for a variety of entertainment or commercial activities. It is normally of the essence of a fair that it is temporary with scheduled times lasting from an afternoon to several weeks.

Dictionary.com defines a fair as:

1. an exhibition, usually competitive, of farm products, livestock, etc., often combined in the U.S. with entertainment and held annually by a county or state.
2. a periodic gathering of buyers and sellers in an appointed place.
3. an exposition in which different exhibitors participate, sometimes with the purpose of buying or selling: a science fair.
4. an exhibition and sale of articles to raise money, often for some charitable purpose.


Fairs are so much more. A County Fair is a community’s celebration of their accomplishments, a place to reconnect with friends, learn about a new product, be entertained, or just sit and relax.

Any event can have food stands, vendors selling products/services, carnival rides, entertainment, and even competitions (who hasn’t heard of the Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island every July 4th?).

In reality, many events call themselves “fairs”, however, most lack what makes a county fair unique – and that’s their competitive exhibits.

I started my Fair Industry career when I was in 4-H and FFA. I was a member of 4-H for 9 years and FFA for 3 years. I showed some livestock and also participated in what was called “home arts” and can now be considered hobby, arts/crafts, etc..

We would spend all year long preparing our items for the annual county fair. The excitement of completing the item, and then taking it to the Fair to drop it off for judging, getting our animals ready for the Fair, packing up all the feed and grooming items. And then it was off to the Fair.

Opening day we anxiously waited for the exhibit buildings to open to see what our items had won….or in some cases didn’t win. Either way, it was always exciting to see our item “on display” at the Fair!

And that is truly what makes a county fair unique.


Want to attract new customers to your Fair? Every Fair can showcase STEM/STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) programming and activities. Look at what you currently offer and identify ways to pull out the STEAM elements. Many of these activities that are already created, or, with a little adjustments, can be easily transformed into STEM/STEAM activities.

As a result of the STEAM programming at the Alameda County Fair, a major medical provider agreed to become a sponsor of a weekend of activities that were health and fitness themed. The sponsor provided staff and equipment to conduct health checks, fitness testing etc. It is a win win for both the sponsor and the Fair.

In addition, these activities are attractive to day camps, summer schools and home schooled children. All of the organizers of these groups are readily seeking new ways to teach children in a fun and entertaining way.
Below is an example of Alameda County Fair’s STEAM programming:

Come & explore Alameda County’s Largest Classroom!

The Alameda County Fair is a living learning classroom that offers an almost limitless variety of activities and experiences that are not only fun but educational as well! Thousands of exhibits and hundreds of activities await inquisitive minds and offer educational opportunities for the entire family as well as youth groups. The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes at the fair will tickle your senses and create unique learning experiences – in a safe and family friendly environment!

Did you know research shows young people experience learning loss when they do not participate in educational activities during the summer? 

Alameda County Fair offers many STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning opportunities.

Plan a field trip to the fair and you and your family can learn about:

  • Science
  • Math
  • Music
  • Robotics
  • Agriculture
  • Environment
  • Physics
  • Natural resources
  • Solar & wind energy
  • Water conservation
  • Horticulture
  • Recycling
  • Animals
  • Sports
  • Health
  • Cooking
  • The arts