California State Fair Wins Best of Show At International Competition

Sacramento, Calif., (December 4, 2017) – On November 29, 2017, the California State Fair accepted top honors at the 127th annual International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) convention in Las Vegas. Fairs and Expositions compete from around the world in Agriculture, Competitive Exhibits, Communication and Sponsorship categories. The California State Fair won the Best of Show in Communication for the third year in a row, competing against well known fairs like Minnesota, Texas, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, New York, Calgary Stampede as well as fairs from Australia, to England. The California State Fair also won Best of Division in Agriculture, and for the first time won the Judges Creative Award in Communication. This was unprecedented to win both the highly coveted and sought after Judges Creative and Best of Show awards. Accepting the awards for the California State Fair team included CEO Rick Pickering, Chief Deputy General Manager Tom Martinez and Deputy General Manager Margaret Mohr.

“We are honored and humbled to be an industry leader for the nation and are very proud of our State Fair Team for winning this award for the third year in a row,” said Rick Pickering, CEO of California Exposition & State Fair.

“The IAFE Hall of Honor Communications contest provides fairs with a unique collaboration experience, allowing them to critique promotional materials in an effort to continue strengthening marketing campaigns at fairs, internationally,” said Lori Hart, Director of Education and Member Services (IAFE).

For the past three years, the California State Fair has focused on making the annual event a true celebration of the best of California. A large wine garden honors the state’s wine region, a live 3.5-acre farm provides an interactive “Farm to Fork” experience, an active kitchen with an Official State Fair Chef produces farm fresh food for tasting and 17 nights of top-level entertainment and concerts create some of the best nights of summer. Year after year, the advertising campaign highlights this experience with food and lifestyle photography that makes the Fair a tourist destination. For this year’s campaign, un/common advertising created the theme “Live in the Moment.” An original song played in videos showing fair goers having unforgettable moments with friends, family and their community. A series of billboards showcased headlines written as if they were “experiences” one might have on their bucket list. The campaign also offered some media surprises including a 50th Fair Hunt scavenger hunt game, an app that let fair-goers create their perfect day and an anthem video that played every night on the Cal Expo water tower. Thank you to Tre Borden for his creative work on the water tower anniversary projection project.

“We focused on the experiences people have at the fair. These are some of the best, most memorable moments in life. Since the California State Fair is a celebration of the absolute best of California, the marketing campaign needs to convey that, or it just isn’t doing its job,” said Brantley Payne, Partner/Creative Director at un/common.

Overall, the California State Fair brought home 34 awards total, 21 first place awards, 12 second place awards and 1 third place award in the following categories:

Hall of Honor Communication Awards – In addition to winning the Best of Show and the Judges Creative Award for the 50th Anniversary Water Tower, the California State Fair won 13 awards out of the 20 categories. A couple noteworthy awards included the newspaper ads that ran in local papers in the area and the magazine ads that ran in Sacramento and Sactown Magazine.

Agriculture Awards – The California State Fair received 9 awards out of 13 categories in addition to the Agriculture Awards Program Best of Division. Of particular note were wins for the Blue Ribbon Brunch and the Farm to Glass and Olive Oil Exhibits at the Fair.

Competitive Exhibits Awards – Out of 18 categories, the California State Fair took home 12 awards. Winning entries included the Whale Tail Exhibit, the Steampunk Competition and the 50th Fair Hunt among others.

For questions, please contact Margaret Mohr, Deputy General Manager or Maricela Ramirez, Marketing Assistant at (916) 263-3182 or

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