Bridget Scotto followed her son around the merry-go-round — with her other son, a 2-year-old, in tow — until they found the perfect horses to ride.
The pilgrimage to the Marin County Fair marked the beginning of a new era for her children, she said.
“We’re starting a tradition,” she said. “My mother-in-law would bring her boys here every year when they were growing up. Today, we brought our boys here.”
The Novato resident was among the many who attended the Marin County Fair’s kickoff day on Friday. Its first full-scale event since 2019, the fair drew families to the San Rafael fairgrounds for a day of rides, games, exhibits and more.
Friday was a special family day event that offered free admission for visitors younger than 12, visitors older than 64 and veterans. Children under 4 and military employees have free admission for the duration of the fair. All other tickets are $25.
Jaime Delacruz of Novato used to bring his kids to the fair every year. Now, his kids have children of their own. Still, they all get together and head to the fair once a year.
“I get to be with my grandsons and my kids and spend time with my family,” he said. “You can find rides anywhere, but family time like this? You can’t beat it, it’s the best.”
Patti Chiu of San Rafael and her husband Howard took advantage of family day to bring their grandkids, ages 7 and 5.
“Last year, we learned our lesson,” she said. “The kids ran right for the concession tents and our arms were full of stuff through all the rides! So this year, we prepped.”
Lunch was classic fair fare: corn dogs and snow cones. Chiu said she is excited to do it again next year.
“This is going to be an annual event they ask about,” she said.
The fair includes exhibits, rides, concerts, a petting zoo, performances, games and nightly fireworks. Classic rides like Tilt-a-Whirl and a Ferris wheel are available, as well as games like ring tossing, dart throwing and basketball shooting. Food options include barbecue, hot dogs, french fries and even turkey legs.
The fair theme this year is ‘Electrifying!’ and aims to celebrate all things electric and solar. The fair has a solar-powered carousel and stage.
The full slate of indoor and outdoor fair events marks a return to normalcy following the COVID-19 crisis. The county held online fairs in 2020 and 2021 and then an outdoor-only fair last summer.
For attendees Rhiannon and Greg Junek, the fair was an opportunity to share part of his childhood with their two boys. He grew up in Marin and attended the fair many times as a child.
While the family lives in Georgia, they made sure their visit to Marin involved the county fair.
“For me, the best part is watching my kids do the rides for the first time,” Rhiannon Junek said.
The fair is scheduled to run 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Tuesday. All fixed-route bus rides in the county will be free until the fair ends, and the SMART train will provide late-night routes.
The fair is produced by the Marin County Department of Cultural Services and the Marin Cultural Association. More information is at marinfair.org.
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