INSIDERS SAY Charlie Barboni is the "heart and soul" of the Marin County Fair.

The 65-year-old Barboni, who coordinates 14,000 exhibits at the fair each year, "just loves the job," fair chief Jim Farley says.

He's had his hands full as usual this year with a wide variety of jobs, including sorting thousands of fair exhibition entries ranging from baked goods and flower arrangements to fine art. His passion for the job began four decades ago, when as head of the Marin County Farm Bureau he organized a petting zoo at the fair. Since then, it has become a full-blown livestock show.

Barboni, whose brother, Bill, runs the family's grass-fed beef spread in Hicks Valley, began as a full-time county employee 13 years ago, after years of contract and volunteer work.

A North Bay 4-H leader, Barboni served for 16 years as a director of the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma and is a veteran of exhibit design and installation work, marketing and special event programs for other fairs in Northern California.

Q: What do you do to help produce the Marin County Fair?

A: I administer the entire exhibit department, including the development of yearly competitions, hiring of 30 fair-time assistants and 140 judges, update the 280-page exhibitors' guidebook and schedule hundreds of dedicated volunteers. I also coordinate our agricultural staff and programming.


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Q: What's your most memorable fair experience?

A: Interacting with the thousands of exhibitors ... and observing junior exhibitors hone their skills from one year to the next.

Q: Which fair was your favorite?

A: Over the last 40 years, one of my favorite fairs was the 2012 edition. ... We showcased our local agriculture in hundreds of ways, introducing fairgoers to the wonderful history and current trends in Marin agriculture.

Q: What's it like working for fair chief Jim Farley?

A: Having the freedom to express my creativity.

Q: What do you do for fun when not at work?

A: I enjoy attending arts and crafts shows. I have been collecting art for 40 years. I am also a 49er season-ticket holder and love to travel.

Contact Nels Johnson via email at ij.civiccenter@gmail.com. Follow him at twitter.com/nelsjohnsonnews