News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contacts:
Jay Van Rein
Release #03-034
SAN BERNARDINO - CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. today announced the publication of “Fairs: Exploring a California Gold Mine,” a report detailing the various economic, social and cultural contributions made by the Golden State’s network of 78 fairs.

“I’m pleased to announce that our fairs generate $2.55 billion in total economic impact on California,” said Lyons. “In addition to these economic contributions, our fairs offer California’s citizens an opportunity to learn about agriculture and its importance in our daily lives. This report details the many ways in which our communities are enhanced by their fairs.”

The origins of California’s fair network date back to before the Civil War, when community leaders sought a way to advance public knowledge of agriculture and provide a community gathering place. That tradition continues, with the addition of modern innovations and attractions that help bring home the importance and reality of agriculture to an increasingly urban population that may have little contact with farms and ranches. Fairs also are a critical part of the junior livestock program and other agriculture-related educational opportunities for young people.

Volunteerism is another opportunity encouraged by our fairs, from serving at a booth to raise charitable funds to acting as a docent for an agricultural exhibit. At the Orange County Fair’s Centennial Farm exhibit, for example, 65 volunteers provide more than 4,000 hours of service per year. Statewide, hundreds of charitable organizations raise over $8 million annually at California’s fairs.

Beyond their social and cultural contributions, fairs have a significant impact on California’s economy, contributing far more than they receive in public funding. Of course, the annual fair is just one of many activities held at California’s fairgrounds and promoted by the organizations that manage them. These groups facilitate use of the fairgrounds for interim events sponsored by community groups and private entities during the “off-season.” These interim events further boost jobs, incomes and tax revenues.

A sample of fair-related economic facts presented in the report:

· In 2002, almost 33 million attendees visited California’s fairgrounds—roughly the same as California’s population of nearly 35 million.
· For each worker the fair and related businesses employ, an estimated 2.62 additional jobs are created.
· State and local governments collected an estimated $136 million in tax revenues from fair-related activities.
· The overall economic impact of the fairs and interim events totaled $2.55 billion.
· Attendees at California’s 78 fairs and additional interim events in 2002 spent about $963 million.
· Attendee spending on commercial exhibitor merchandise totaled $406 million, which generated $32 million in state and local taxes.
· Commercial exhibitors generated $491 million in total spending, $219 million in personal income and nearly $17 million in state and local taxes.
· Each dollar spent by attendees at fairs and interim events generates an estimated 39 cents of additional spending in the state.

The full report is available in electronic form (PDF) at

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814