Marin County Fair returns to San Rafael in-person for first time since 2019

SAN RAFAEL — For the first time since the pandemic shutdown in 2019, the Marin County Fair will be in-person from Thursday through Monday, July 4 at the fairgrounds in San Rafael. 

This year’s theme, “So Happy Together,” will focus on outdoor performances like jugglers, stilt walkers and concerts, with activities for all ages. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, fairgoers can enjoy classic carnival rides, fireworks and some of the healthiest carnival food options around. There will also be nightly concerts starting at 7:30 p.m. in addition to the traditional agricultural competition and exhibits of livestock.

One of the returning highlights at this year’s fair will be the nightly firework shows over the Civic Center’s Lagoon Park at 9:30 p.m. The spectacles will be choreographed with music with a special special extravaganza planned for July 4.

The daily concerts with major musical acts are another draw for the Marin County Fair. To kick things off, San Francisco ’70s pop/rock band Pablo Cruise  performs on Thursday, delivering such hit singles as “Whatcha Gonna Do?” and “Love Will Find a Way.”Opening act Matt Jaffe will take the stage at 3 p.m.

On Friday, Sheila E. serves as the headlining act. Known as one of the industry’s most talented percussionists, she was joining her legendary father Pete Escovedo onstage to perform in front of thousands starting at the young age of five. She played with George Duke and Herbie Hancock early in her professional career before teaming with Prince, who produced her hit debut solo album The Glamorous Life in 1984. She would also contribute vocals and percussion to Prince’s recordings and toured as his drummer during the ’80s. Sheila E. has also performed with artists like Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, Beyonce and Stevie Nicks. 

North Bay rock band Sons of Champlin will perform on Saturday. The band was started in Marin County by founding member Terry Haggerty in 1965 and has released eight major albums since then. The hip-hop trio Digable Planets, known for its 1993 Grammy-winning single, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” will perform on Sunday. Nearly 30 years after the group’s debut, its jazz-inspired rhythms still excite crowds internationally.

Funk band Dumpstaphunk and George Porter Jr., best known as the bassist of the Meters, will close the fair on July 4 with a set focusing on the music of the Meters for their classic ’70s albums of syncopated New Orleans funk. Tickets for the fair are available online for $20, or purchase them at the gate for $25. All ticket sales include general admission to the concert of the day. Children under 12 and seniors over 65 will be admitted for free on Thursday. Parking passes start at $15.

If you don’t feel like driving, consider taking the bus or riding a bike. All fixed-route bus rides in the county will be free during the fair with additional operation hours. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition will offer free bike valet services every day. For additional information about the Marin County Fair, visit the official website.

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