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In The News

Kaiser Permanente Celebrates the Marin County Fair Taking Top Honors for 'Playing Fair'

County Fair Takes Top Honors for 'Playing Fair'


Congratulations to Marin County Fair for receiving top honors from the Western Fair Association (WFA) for "playing fair" and healthy in 2015.  


For 14 years, the fair has collaborated on Marin's "Play Fair" initiative with Marin County Health and Human Services (HHS), and Kaiser Permanente, to build and maintain a fair that is both successful and healthy. Together, the community partners have worked to find fun and culturally relevant ways of tackling such prevalent health concerns as obesity, alcohol abuse, and tobacco use.


Play Fair community partners include: Marin County Board of Supervisors, Health and Human Services, and Office of Education; Marin Community Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Marin General Hospital, Novato Community Hospital, North Bay Leadership Council, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Alcohol Justice, Bay Area Community Resources, First 5 Marin Children and Families Commission, Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, and Huckleberry Youth Programs.

Over the years, the collaborative has succeeded in bringing the following changes to fruition at the county fair:

  • Elimination of fair sponsorship and marketing of alcohol.
  • Initiation of the first smoke-free fair.
  • Requiring food vendors to offer healthy options.
  • Creating fair-wide waste diversion, with compostable-only products.
  • Creating a baby sanctuary for breastfeeding and resting.
  • Introducing a judged competition for healthy foods.
  • Awarding two USDA Food Grants totaling $200,000.
  • Implementing youth ambassadors of health.
  • Creating of a 1k Fun Race for kids.

Along with capturing the 2015 Merrill Award (WFA's highest honor), Marin County Fair also received the Featured Program Award for partnering with Schools Rule Marin, plus 35 individual awards (more honors than any other fair in the association's Western United States and Canada membership)!


Marin County Public Health Officer Matt Willis, MD, called the fair "public health in action."


"The fair reflects and reinforces the values of this community, condensed into a few days in the summer," Willis said. "Play Fair represents that Marin pride in being thoughtful about promoting health and wellness for everyone."


Taking things a step further, Dr. Rocio Hernandez of Marin HHS, and Kaiser Permanente's Theresa Rockas, oversaw the creation of Growing Healthy Events is Healthy Business guide to assist other communities with successfully promoting health at their local fairs and festivals.


"The Merrill Award judges are the real heroes, because they recognize that a fair can add healthy choices and keep the crowds coming back," said Medical Group Administrator Patricia Kendall, San Rafael Medical Center. "Their nod to embrace change will make a difference in influencing health across the country. How exciting is that?"

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