For more information:
Sanjida Nahar
[email protected]


SAN MATEO – The San Mateo County Fair is honoring the past and current legacy of California farmworkers this year with a mural of Mexican and Filipino labor leaders and an exhibit highlighting current farmworker conditions.

Muralist Carlos Gonzalez has spent several days creating a mural dedicated to Filipino farmworkers like Larry Itliong, an early labor leader who helped organize Filipino grape workers in Delano. Itliong worked with César Chávez to unite Filipino and Mexican farmworkers for the Delano Grape Strike and Boycott in 1965. The Delano strike lasted for five years and resulted in a win for the rights of farm laborers. Itliong was instrumental in combining the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee with the National Farm Workers Association led by Chávez into the United Farm Workers. Itliong later served as assistant director in the United Farm Workers, with Chávez as director. Larry Itliong Day is recognized in California annually on Oct. 25. Gonzalez said Itliong remains an essential figure in the movement for farmworker labor rights.

“Many of them are unsung heroes, the Asian and Filipino farmworkers that were working side by side with the Mexican American and Latino laborers,” Gonzalez said.

The mural also features Chávez and Dolores Huerta looking toward him, with the Asian farmworkers picketing out in the fields. Gonzalez will complete the mural background during the week and give kids attending the fair a chance to paint parts of the mural. During the weekend, kids 8 and up can participate and paint several mural figures. Once completed, the mural will hang at the ArtZone collective at The Shops at Tanforan in San Bruno, where Gonzalez teaches mural workshops. It will also be available for community agencies who want to hang it for events. Gonzalez, 63, grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco and has been a muralist since he was a teenager in the 1970s. After his retirement as a probation officer, he focused on his art full time. Fair officials commissioned him to make the mural.

“Workers’ rights continue to this day, and so unions are what the people need to continue thriving to get decent pay and medical benefits,” Gonzalez said.

San Mateo County Fair organizers have also put together a Farmworker Hero Exhibit to educate and honor current farmworkers, who still face challenging conditions in their jobs. The gallery offers portraits and stories of current farmworkers in California, including Half Moon Bay, working in the fields. It also provides a photo history of previous efforts by labor leaders like Chavez and Huerta to fight for better working conditions. Farmworkers and those featured in the gallery are also being invited to see the exhibit on Sunday as part of Farmworker Hero Appreciation Day. Michele Titus, an anthropology professor at the College of San Mateo, helped curate the exhibit. She noted many farmworkers have to deal with union-busting, poor pay, terrible working conditions and increased risk of health defects while working in the fields. Despite the injustices they face, farmworkers continue to provide food to millions of people across the country and picked crops during the pandemic.

“There are no more essential workers than these people,” Titus said.

While many people have stopped by this week, Titus wants more people to visit. She said anyone who feels the exhibit doesn’t concern them should reflect on the humanity and importance of farmworkers to society and the economy. Titus is working on having information graphics to help fairgoers understand why they should care.

People can find the Farmworker Hero Exhibit inside the Expo Center. The fair is open until Sunday, June 12. People can go to to learn more about events and activities.

[email protected]

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

During COVID, the San Mateo Event Center was unable to host most events but instead played a vital role in protecting our health care workers and most vulnerable populations by serving as a COVID-19 testing site, operations hub, and supply center, 250-bed temporary overflow hospital, and vaccine distribution center for the San Francisco Bay Area. To date, the Event Center has administered 250,000 COVID-19 tests and vaccinated more than 90,000 individuals.

The award-winning San Mateo County Fair is the Peninsula’s premier community event for family fun and entertainment. The San Mateo County Fair strives to provide a diverse experience through education, inspiration, and entertainment. The annual Fair represents a celebration of our community’s talent, interests, innovations, and rich agricultural and artistic heritage.