Saving Our Petaluma Fairgrounds

The fairgrounds is a 55-acre, City-owned property that has touched the lives of many Petalumans and is located at the heart of our city. City residents pay for the fairground property with their local tax dollars.

For the last 50 years, the state has leased this property from the City for only one dollar each year, while retaining full control of all events that take place there. This year, the 50-year lease will expire, and the City will take back control of the property from the state.

THE FAIR IS HERE TO STAY 

The fairgrounds property has hosted the annual Sonoma-Marin Fair for over 80 years—and that will continue. 

On Dec. 18, 2023, our City Council approved a lease agreement with the 4th DAA that continues their tenure operating our annual fair while also allowing our community to enjoy the fairgrounds property year-round under local taxpayer control

This action marks the culmination of City’s commitment made last October 24, 2022, when the City Council directed staff to negotiate an agreement with the DAA to ensure the continuation of the annual fair with minimal disruption.

On January 1, 2024, the City will assume management of the fairgrounds property and has executed agreements with each of the existing tenants for this period of transition, allowing minimal disruptions as we plan to ensure year-round public use of this taxpayer-owned property.

JOIN US ON THE FAIRGROUNDS

Rent a Space for your Event or Program

With the fairgrounds property managed locally by the City of Petaluma, we welcome the opportunity to engage with residents and explore new community programming.  The facilities and community spaces will also be available to reserve for private activities and special events.

Have an event or activity you’d like to hold at the Fairgrounds property? Contact us to learn more and share your vision with a staff member:

Share your Ideas for the Future

During our extensive year-long public engagement process with our community, which also included a deep-dive study of the City’s fairgrounds property (over 90+ hours!) by a 36-member Petaluma resident panel that produced three reports, including final recommendations, and three visualizations of their recommendations, we heard:

  • Keep the annual fair
  • Better property management
  • More accessible, affordable community events and uses for the Petaluma community

Now, we need your input and welcome other ideas as we look towards a future master plan of the Fairgrounds property. Rank your priorities for the site at the bottom of this page and make other suggestions for uses and improvements that might benefit the community.

INNOVATIONS IN COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Our community has been involved in planning the future of our Fairgrounds property every step of the way.

To help us gather feedback and engage our community, we hired Healthy Democracy, a US-based nonpartisan nonprofit, to conduct a one-of-a-kind experience in democracy – a lottery-selected resident panel. This Fairgrounds Advisory Panel included 36 Petalumans from all different walks of life. They spent over 90 hours learning about the fair, the fairgrounds, and hearing from our community about their needs and desires for the property—and then developed recommendations to the City Council about how the City might plan for the future of this iconic, beloved property.

This new approach, integrated with our established community engagement tools, brought new voices to the table for this important conversation. The Fairgrounds Advisory Panel was chosen to represent a microcosm of the City, and participants were paid for their time to make participation more accessible for historically underrepresented Petalumans.  

To learn more about the innovative Fairgrounds Advisory Panel, click HERE

Additional opportunities for resident engagement will be coming soon! Sign up on the right side of the page to stay updated with news and more ways to get involved.

OUR COMMUNITY'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The City of Petaluma is committed to providing our residents, who own the fairgrounds property, with the annual fair, increased access and more community services, uses, and events onsite, and improved property management to ensure the Petaluma’s community hub reflects the pride our residents have for our beloved fairgrounds property.

On October 24, 2022, following the input from our community, your City Council adopted guiding principles directly from your feedback to ensure our community’s needs and desires for its property are reflected in any activity, improvement, or planning effort that occurs. (Click HERE to view the full meeting.)

The 8 guiding principles that will guide all future efforts on the city-owned property are as follows:

  • Acknowledge and build upon community input regarding the fairgrounds property while continuing to engage with the community going forward.
  • Create, maintain, and enhance authentic partnerships across stakeholders and community groups with an interest in the fairgrounds property.
  • Provide civic and institutional stability during the transition period and beyond so that the fair event and other key uses continue.
  • Affirm a renewed, generational commitment of the City to the Petaluma community's agricultural past and present for which the fairgrounds property continues to be a focal point, to the people who have utilized and want to utilize the fairgrounds property, and to the fairgrounds property itself and its unique challenges and potential as an asset for the whole community through near-, medium-, and long-term actions and milestones for the property and related programs.
  • Preserve and enhance key elements, resources, and activities at the fairgrounds property that the community is connected to and that make the place unique.
  • Honor the legacy of history, place, and community while fostering safety, health, inclusivity, cultural connectedness, accessibility, and useability of the fairgrounds property for the benefit of all.
  • Preserve and enhance the capacity of the fairgrounds property to provide critical emergency response resources for Petaluma and the region.
  • While preserving the essential and unique feel and presence of the fairgrounds property and its core features, ensure that future fairgrounds property uses, including fair event uses, are maximized to effectively and compatibly accomplish as many of the community's needs and wants for the fairgrounds property as possible.

We look forward to working with you to uphold these Guiding Principles and increasing access to the Fairgrounds for the community. Sign up above right to stay up-to-date on events, programming, and the future master planning process!

RANK YOUR PRIORITIES BELOW

What do you want to see at the Fairgrounds?

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Welcome Back to Your Fairgrounds

NEXT STEPS

JANUARY 2024 - DECEMBER 2027

  • Address maintenance backlog
  • Visioning & master planning with community & property tenants
  • Pilot new uses
    • Year-round farmer's market
    • BMX track
    • Programming for seniors, youth, non profits, & ag, in addition to our annual fair

DECEMBER 2023

Check out the 2023 proposals from the state/4th DAA and corresponding responses from the City:

SIGN UP TO STAY INFORMED

Petaluma’s Innovative Fairgrounds Panel

Digital Storytelling Exhibit

A digital exhibit featuring community drawings, poems, photos, videos, voice notes, and more – sharing stories and other memories that speak to the spirit and legacy of the Fairgrounds. Click here to learn more. 

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