“The rural county fairs are really the original ‘Farm to Fork’ movement,” says Ciro Toma, President of the Amador County Fair Foundation.

“Our Fairgrounds structures were built post-World War II,”

“But with the kinds of challenges facing rural county fairs these days, we more think of our mission now as ‘Farm to Future.’ ”

“These rural fairs in California date back to before the Civil War,” explains Patrick Crew, Past President of the Fair Foundation board of directors.  “Their goal was to educate people about agriculture and to provide a central community gathering place. Not much about that unique, central role in our community has really changed.  County fairs have evolved into the heartbeat of the economic, social and culture lives of our community. Here in Amador, our Fairgrounds is our town square where everyone gets together.”

It’s clear that everyone in the county, from all walks of life, depend on the fairgrounds. It’s the only local evacuation center for both people and animals, the only local emergency personnel staging area, the only venue for local youth to gain exposure to animals, music, the arts, and community service, and it’s the preferred meeting place for the local Miwok tribe.
While the need for the Fairgrounds remains constant, how these cherished institutions are funded is changing dramatically.

“In the ‘30s, legislation was passed that provided funds for rural county fairs from horse race betting,” says Ryan.  “By the ‘80s and ‘90s, those funds started evaporating. By 2009, those resources had disappeared altogether. Subsequent funding sources from the state were eliminated in 2011. In fact, several rural county fairs in California are struggling to find new funding models.”


Visit the Fair Foundation’s Donation page for detailed donation levels and benefits.