fair photo

One of the many lost rites of last summer was the chance to attend a county fair, a longtime family-fun tradition of rides, animal exhibits, entertainment and, of course, the guilty pleasures of fair food. This year, many Bay Area county fairs are poised for a comeback, with some shifting dates to allow in-person attendance and others pivoting to virtual events with some in-person elements, such as fair food drive-ins. Read on for more details on your favorite fair.

Alameda County Fair. Oct. 22-31. The annual fair has been rescheduled from June to October, when guests will be able to attend in person with advanced tickets and limited capacity. Live horse racing will still take place Fridays-Sundays June 18-July 11, including July 4, and the Livestock and Small Animal Shows will be held from July 7 through July 11, with limited spectators. The Junior Livestock Auction will be held in-person and virtually on July 11. 4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton. 

Contra Costa County Fair. The 2021 fair, originally scheduled for May, has been canceled. 

Marin County Fair. July 2-4. This year, the fair will be mostly virtual but will include a drive-through fair food event, as well as a modified online competitive exhibits program and a “special day of surprises on July 4.” 

Monterey County Fair. Sept. 3-6. The fair is scheduled for early September, with details to come, and the livestock show taking place from Aug. 25-29. 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey. 

Napa Town & County Fair. July 7-11. The fair will have competitive exhibits and Junior Livestock, Fur and Feather categories. Check website for details. 575 Third St., Napa. 

San Mateo County Fair. June 5-13 (closed June 7-8). Advance timed tickets are now on sale for this fair, which is currently planning to operate at 25% capacity. In-person favorites will include animals, pig races, BBQ, funnel cakes, carnival rides and a giant Ferris wheel. Attendees will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked, and touchless transactions will be encouraged. 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo. 

Santa Clara County Fair. July 29-Aug. 1 and Aug 5-8. 4-11 p.m. This fair is adopting a drive-through format, allowing guests to “visit all the exciting places California has to offer” at exhibits showcasing the Golden State, while picking up favorite fair foods including corn dogs, funnel cakes, candy apples and cotton candy. Advance tickets are required, and sales are underway. There will also be a virtual livestock show Aug. 1-6, followed by a virtual auction on Aug. 7. 344 Tully Road, San Jose.

Solano County Fair. June 17-20. The fair will be virtual this year, with competitions from fine art to livestock taking place in a virtual showcase, along with live and pre-recorded entertainment. 

Sonoma County Fair. Dates TBD. 

Sonoma-Marin Fair. May 7-9 and 14-16, June 18-20 and 25-27. 12-8 p.m. Drive through for fair foods including turkey legs, corn dogs, funnel cakes, cotton candy and more. A “Cars, Coffee and Cruise at the Fair” event is scheduled for June 27. 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma.

Janine DeFao is an associate editor at Bay Area Parent.