Paul Parreira, Sr.
By Prishaa Vala
Los Banos native and longtime Spring Fair Board Member Paul Parreira, Sr., has been named 2023 Merced County Spring Fair Grand Marshall. The Spring Fair is also known by many as the May Day Fair.
Parreira was born and raised in Los Banos and chose to raise his family here. Parreira commented that being named grand marshal “Has been a humbling experience” and that he was “Very surprised and deeply honored.”
In addition to the 25-years he has served on the Spring Fair Board of Directors, Parreira has been an active member of the Future Farmers of America Organization, 4-H, a Heritage Foundation Founder (an agricultural scholarship program that supports the fair financially) and a Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus member.
Besides his support and dedication to the community, Parreira is a graduate of the California Agriculture Leadership Program (class 44) and currently serves on California Agriculture Leadership Foundation’s Board of Directors. Parreira also serves as vice chair of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Feed Inspection Advisory Board, vice chair of the Almond Board of California’s Biomass Working Group, Almond Alliance of California’s Co-Products Committee Chair, and the Exchange Contractors Political Action Committee’s President.
Parreira believes giving back to the community is extremely important. “What makes home special is the people, the community,” he said. “Our family believes strongly in community service. I have carried on the tradition my parents and grandparents started by volunteering and sharing my time, talent, and treasure where it was most beneficial.”
“In fact,” he added, “this year is the 20th anniversary of the May Day Fair’s Little Hands Exhibit, which my parents, Barbara and Louie Parreira, started. I am just continuing the ‘service-above-self’ tradition.”
As a former fair board director and three-time board president, Parreira said he volunteered at the May Day Fair for years before he was asked to join the board. He showed up and worked hard to understand the various fair board positions and responsibilities.
“I was extremely fortunate early-on to have some great people take me under their wings,” he said. ““I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge retired, longtime Merced County Spring Fair Manager Ron Brandt. Ron knows more about fair management than anyone else I know. Over the years, he was instrumental in the fair’s growth, as well as my own success. Paul continued, “Bob Walker, who handles the fair’s concessions and entertainment, took the time and effort to teach me about how fair concessions and entertainment work. There are nuances and negotiation tactics that can make or break the fair’s financial success. Bob’s sharing his knowledge and expertise made me a much better director Both Bob and Ron took the time to teach, mentor, and encourage me.”
Since the time Parreira was first involved in the fair in 1984, many notable May Day Fair accomplishments have made a positive difference in the community. As he noted, the Merced County Spring Fair attendance revenue doubled, the Merced County Spring Livestock Auction revenue tripled, and fair attendance increased by 110 percent. In addition, youth agriculture participation more than doubled, and the fair has raised over $1.65 million for scholarships and education facilities related to California agriculture.
When asked what Paul is most looking forward at this year’s May Day Fair, which runs from May 3 to May 7, he replied, “I am looking forward to sharing the Fair with my family. As a Fair Board member there’s always work to be done; I never was able to fully enjoy the fair. I am also looking forward to seeing the remodeled Little Hands Education Exhibit and sharing that with my parents.