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 summer of 2019 saw two mass shootings, El Paso & Gilroy. The LA County Fair felt the aftermath of those tragedies and were asked by media and guests if the Fair was safe to attend. They wanted to know if the fair was increasing safety measures and how the fair was going to keep over 1 million Fair guests safe. The LA County Fair strengthened its safety plan by completing a $200,000 upgrade on the Fair's Command Center and increasing the amount and visibility of Pomona Police officers on the grounds. The Command Center is the hub of activity were Fairplex security and law enforcement partners are stationed daily during the Fair to monitor the grounds. The upgrade added more monitors, more cameras around the grounds and the surrounding neighborhoods, a social media monitoring station and more. The Command Center not only increased safety but worked as a communication tool.
Pima County Fair aspires to acknowledge the partnerships with our vendors and concessionaires, address issues they may have in traveling from town to town, and assist with concerns that may arise during their stay at our facility. This year the Pima County Fair developed a concierge program that included: dissemination of a pamphlet with information for local stores, medical offices, restaurants, etc.; hosting a vendor breakfast with association meetings; acknowledgment of vendors with long-standing commitment to Pima County Fair at the vendor breakfast; dissemination of welcome bags at check-in that included water, lip balm, concierge pamphlet, pen, and small gift of appreciation; availability of concierge services.
The Big Fresno Fair had a historical philanthropic-focused day with its decade-long “Feed the Need” Food Drive, which provided Fairgoers a deep discount while giving back in a big way to the community. However, it was determined that at year 10, there needed to be a refresh to this day, so the fair set out to create a new philanthropic day that wasn’t as labor-intensive as collecting food but would still greatly serve the community and help generate traffic at the Fair.  $4 “Fill the Need” Day was born. The Big Fresno Fair and Valley Children’s announced this inspiring collaboration on the $4 “Fill the Need” Day that would go to support their mission to increase access to life-saving healthcare for the 1.3 million kids in our region.  The program increased outreach, provided a large discount for fairgoers, increased attendance, and strengthened The Big Fresno Fair’s tie to the community.

“Kids Feeding Kids” is a new program that launched just seven months prior to the 2019 Antelope Valley (AV) Fair & Alfalfa Festival, and is dedicated to helping the hungry in the local community. Approximately 70% of the families in the Antelope Valley who secure food via the two community food banks, Grace Resource Center and SAVES, have school-age children who lack the daily nourishment needed for a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. “Kids Feeding Kids” grew out of an obvious need to help the less fortunate by providing a healthy source of meat-based “farm to table” protein to local families in need. “Kids Feeding Kids” also adds a life-changing component to local youth who participate in 4-H, Grange, FFA, and Independent Livestock. The youth who participate in raising and selling quality animals at the AV Fair Livestock Auction now have a deeper understanding of the local need, and a meaningful philanthropic cause when marketing their animals.

Thursday, January 22nd 2020
Leadership Luncheon & Merrill Presentations (ticket required)
11:30am - 12:45pm
Western Fairs Association Industry Awards Dinner (ticket required)
6:00 - 8:00pm
Tickets are available on-site at the registration desk.
See you in Reno!