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The Napa County Fair Association received high honors from industry peers for its innovation and creativity, awards that were recognized at the Western Fairs Association convention in Anaheim in early January.

“I’m immensely proud, not just of our staff but also our volunteers,” said Carlene Moore, CEO of the Napa County Fairgrounds. “We have cause for celebration of all their efforts, of all the hours people put in, whether it’s for attending committee meetings or working at events.”

Of the 29 different Western Fairs Association (WFA) Achievement Award divisions, the Napa County Fair Association (NCFA) placed in 15 of the divisions with eight first-place wins, including first place in the featured contest for their Digital Marketing Campaign, which outlined the redesign of its website. The entries were for events or marketing conducted between Nov. 1, 2016 and Oct. 31, 2017.

Another first-place win was for Interim Event Rentals Innovative Marketing Strategy, which Moore said was for creativity in promoting the fair’s holiday parties, a strategy that started in 2016. For a fee companies could hold their holiday parties in fully decorated facilities such as Butler Pavilion or the Tucker Room. All they had to do was show up with whatever food and beverage they were serving, Moore said.

In the category Fairtime Innovative Marketing Strategy, the NCFA was rewarded for its innovation in design of Napa County Fair-branded fans that were passed out to people along the parade route during Calistoga’s Fourth of July Parade.

For Give It Your Best Shot, the NCFA was awarded three first-place honors for the best photography in the carnival, exhibits and community categories. Moore is especially pleased with the photo for the community category, which was of Ballet Folklorico, because it typified a “cross-pollination of cultures represented on Independence Day,” she said.

An idea Moore and her team brought to Flynn Circus – that of holding a 21-and-over-only event where alcoholic beverages could be served – earned the NCFA a first-place in Interim Events, and was so successful that circus promoters said they will likely try it at other venues.

In the New Exhibits Competition, the addition of competitive exhibits through special contests and activities in what is now the Christmas Faire, an expansion of the Christmas Bazaar, got top nods in their class division.

The Engage Art Fair Preview Party, which invited attendees to become a part of the “canvas” by wearing all white, grabbed the prize in the New Event, Exhibit or Program competition.

For the NCFA volunteer program, the top award wasn’t for anything glamorous, splashy or fun to look at, but instead for the drudge work that goes into putting in place policies, procedures, job descriptions, training, and recruiting of volunteers that keep the events going, Moore said. Since 2015 the organization has been working on earning a certificate of Service Enterprise Initiative from Points of Light.

Second place recognition was earned through such things as Fourth of July print ads and social media campaigns, the Gala a’Fair Preview Party, and Sarafornia, the Engage Art Fair collaboration with Visit Calistoga and Arts Council Napa Valley for Calistoga’s celebration of Napa Valley Arts in April.

The Engage Art Fair floor decals promotion and the Fair logo were awarded third placements in their division.

The NCFA is at the beginning stages of redefining itself in the shadow of a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between the City of Calistoga and Napa County. The JPA was presented to Calistoga and the county by the NCFA about 18 months ago but has not come to fruition.

NCFA has also come under fire from critics who charge Moore and the board with ineptitude in operating the fairgrounds facilities that include the event center, Mt. St. Helena Golf Course, Calistoga Speedway and RV park.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor