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Home > Attend > 2020 Convention & Trade Show > Awards Center > Merrill Award

Merrill Award

The Merrill Award, named in honor of Western Fairs Association Founder Louis Merrill, is given for those entries that clearly demonstrate innovation, vision, and excellence.
The 2019 Merrill Award Finalists will be presenting their projects during the Leadership Luncheon January 22, 2020

The winner(s) will be announced at the Industry Awards Dinner January 22, 2020

2018 Merrill Award Winners

Lake County Fair

Lake County Fair

Adopt the Fairgrounds

2018 saw record-breaking wildfires throughout the state of California, the largest of which occurred in Lake County. The Mendocino Complex fire burned over 400,000 acres, forcing the evacuation of the fairgrounds' home city of Lakeport, only allowing return 16 days before fair. Prior to the fire, the new Adopt the Fair program saw service clubs, schools, community activity groups, and vocational clubs pledge to design, landscape, and brand certain areas of the fairgrounds. As many were unable to return home in time for fair, it was astounding how the community stepped forward to fulfill their pledges. Community support for the fair was further demonstrated with a 32% rise in attendance and a record-breaking livestock auction.
Marin County Fair

Marin County Fair

All for One & Fun for All!

The 2018 theme for the Marin County Fair in San Rafael, California sought to celebrate diverse cultures throughout their community. "All for One & Fun for All!" offered opportunities for everyone to feel included at the fair, from the fair's themed artwork of multi-colored hands to exciting community-provided entertainment on the Global Stage and Three Twins Solar Stage. To add to the variety of music and dance from around the world, the fair hosted an International Festival of Short Film and Video, receiving 1,128 entries from 78 countries. Culinary contests included a Recetas Latinas Contest for Latino foods. The fair also worked with WFA member Out at the Fair to promote an LGBTQ+ -friendly day, ensuring all cultures in their community felt welcome at the fair.

2018 Merrill Award Finalists

California Mid-State Fair

California Mid-State Fair

Hands on Farming

This new ag experience at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles pays tribute to local ag community legend Dr. Joe Sabol. Fairgoers of all ages engaged in experiences led by Dr. Sabol, other Cal Poly professors, and local growers during 20-minute hands-on demonstrations followed by Q & A sessions. Some of the 30 classes included Fruit Tree Grafting, Bonsai Tree Care, Farm Knot Tying, and Growing Dahlias, Dragon Fruit, and Tomatoes. The entire Hands on Farming experience was provided free with fair admission.
Central Washington State Fair

Central Washington State Fair

Fair Farm Building

The Central Washington State Fair in Yakima's Fair Farm Building has been entertaining and educating guests for 20 years, continuing to grow and offer new experiences for young fairgoers. With signs proclaiming "Every time you eat a meal, you become a part of AGRICULTURE!" and "Remember to thank a farmer", the exhibit serves to bring children closer to the ag community. With attractions like the Fair School, Straw Maze, Pony Stable, Milking Barn, and Goat Mountain, children are entertained for hours. Shaded seating and a Mothers' Area complete the experience to increase guest length of stay. All activities at the Fair Farm Building are free with fair admission.
Stanislaus County Fair

Stanislaus County Fair

empowHER Lounge

Young women felt empowered at the 2018 Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock, California. Leading up to fair-time, the fair partnered with their local mall for in-kind advertising, several shops within the mall for gifts, discounts, and sponsoring an essay contest, and with a popular radio host to champion the Lounge. During the fair, workshops included topics such as Health and Fitness, Interview Skills, Building Financial Confidence, and Be Responsible on Social Media. The consistent message found throughout the Lounge was "Confidence is Beautiful" and "Kindness is Power." Over 3,250 young women came through the lounge during the fair's 10-day run.

Past Merrill Award Winners

2018 - Lake County Fair • Marin County Fair
2017 - New Mexico State Fair • San Diego County Fair
2016 - Nevada County Fair • OC Fair & Event Center • Big Fresno Fair
2015 - Marin County Fair
2014 - Del Norte County Fair • Big Fresno Fair
2013 - Calgary Stampede • Washington County Fair
2012 - California Mid-State Fair • Grand National Rodeo • Monterey County Fair • San Benito County Fair • Santa Barbara County Fair • Ventura County Fair
2011 - Big Fresno Fair

2010 - Alameda County Fair
2009 - California Mid-State Fair
2008 - Alameda County Fair • Marin County Fair
2007 - Los Angeles County Fair • Marin County Fair
2006 - Big Fresno Fair • Minnesota State Fair
2005 - Calgary Stampede • San Diego County Fair
2004 - Antelope Valley Fair • Salinas Valley Fair
2003 - Redwood Acres Fair
2002 - Orange County Fair • Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair
2001 - Los Angeles County Fair • Western Washington Fair

2000 - Nadine Lowery • Kern County Fair
1999 - Western Washington Fair
1998 - Calgary Stampede • Marin County Fair
1997 - Del Mar Fair
1996 - California State Fair
1995 - Marin County Fair
1994 - California State Fair • Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
1993 - Calgary Stampede • Napa Valley Exposition • Orange County Fair
1992 - Merced County Fair • School Involvement Fair • Calgary Stampede
1991 - Western Fair

1990 - Sam Abbott
1989 - Orange County Fair • Festival at the Lake
1987 - Tulare County Fair • Colorado River Country Fair • California State Fair
1986 - New Mexico State Fair • Edmonton Northlands
1985 - Orange County Fair • Ventura County Fair • Sonoma County Fair • Los Angeles County Fair
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