Staff Report

The board of directors of the Santa Maria Fairpark deeply regrets having to make the painful decision to cancel the 2020 Santa Barbara County Fair for the first time since World War II. The Fairpark board and staff have been monitoring state and local health directives and making adjustments to event programming in hopes that the event would occur, but the health and safety of patrons, staff, and volunteers must be the first priority. 

In acknowledging the Fair’s impact on the community, Santa Maria Fairpark CEO, Richard Persons said the board weighed the decision carefully. 

“The board of directors and staff recognize the significance of the economic impact this cancelation has on the community at large and on sponsors, industry partners, exhibitors, patrons and the Fairpark itself, and waited as long as possible to make this devastating decision,” Persons said. 

Persons said that the board noted that nearly 60% of the Fairpark’s annual budget is derived from the Santa Barbara County Fair, and the cancelation of the event jeopardizes the ongoing viability of the Fairpark operation.

The decision to cancel the event was made during a regularly scheduled board meeting on June 2, in accordance with the state-of-emergency Executive Order N-33-20 issued by Governor Gavin Newsom, as well as the follow up directives from the State’s Public Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell, under California Government Code Sections 120125, 120140, 131080, 120130(c), 120135, 120145, 120175 and 120150.

The Fairpark board has formulated a refund policy for vendors, exhibitors and sponsors of the Santa Barbara County Fair, and staff will begin implementing that policy. Additionally, the Fairpark will soon announce plans for a virtual livestock auction to support exhibitors who have animal husbandry projects based on the Santa Barbara County Fair.

The Fairpark board and staff remain hopeful that large gatherings will be permitted later this year and continue planning for events to occur in the fall, including the West Coast Kustoms Cruisin’ Nationals, currently scheduled for October 2-4, the Santa Maria Fall Fest scheduled for October 23-26, as well as dozens of smaller gatherings scheduled in the fall. 

About the Santa Maria Fairpark

The Santa Maria Fairpark serves as the hub for major events and community activities on California’s Central Coast. The state-owned facility hosts the annual Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival, which attracts more than 70,000 people and is home to its headlining event, the Santa Barbara County Fair, which is attended by more than 150,000 people.