The Cow Palace Arena & Event Center operates year-round, hosting various community-serving events and activities, in addition to the annual Grand National Livestock Exposition, Horse Show & Rodeo. In 2015, Cow Palace events created the equivalent of 222 jobs, generated $9,689,000 in labor income and generated over $37 million in spending activity. The Cow Palace also generates business tax revenue that provides for programs benefiting the local community.*
The many benefits and educational programs that the Cow Palace brings to its local community range from First Responder training and driver safety to programs supporting state agriculture, the performing arts, and community fundraisers.

* From the 2015 Economic Impact Study of California's Fairgrounds by the CDFA, California Department of Food & Agriculture, Fairs & Expositions Branch

Link below to full study:


Training & Staging Area for First Responders & Disaster Relief

The Cow Palace provides a crucial training and staging area for first responders and disaster relief. A key component of state and local disaster response plans, it will serve as a command post, field hospital, citizen shelter, and helicopter landing area during major emergencies such as earthquakes.

If there were a disaster today, the Cow Palace could accommodate hundreds of emergency vehicles and provide helicopter landing zones, livestock refuge, and evacuation support and logistics of all kinds. No other location in this densely populated urban area has this capability.

Future Farmers of America (FFA)

FFA was founded in 1925, when the children of American farmers were expected to take over their parents' operations, but many had begun to leave agriculture altogether. FFA aimed to instill a sense of pride in farm families by providing them with leadership training and an outlet to express themselves.

Today the California FFA Association serves over 80,000 student members in over 320 high schools, from urban schools in Los Angeles and the Bay Area to rural schools all across the state. In the classroom FFA members learn agricultural science and in some cases trade skills. Outside the classroom they grow crops, raise livestock, participate in research trials and job shadows, and compete against other FFA members in leadership skills.

Future Farmers of America

Driver Safety

SFMTA: The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency trains its Muni operators at Cow Palace facilities via regular MUNI operator training classes. The Cow Palace has played host to the American Public Transit Association’s annual “Bus Road-eo,” where bus operators compete in a series of driving and safety tests, including an obstacle course showcasing the drivers’ best skills. Winners advance to the American Public Transportation Association International Roadeo.

Teen Driver Safety: The Cow Palace hosts the Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart Experience where teen drivers experience first-hand the dangers of texting while driving, and gain the knowledge and skills to make better decisions while driving.

Victorian School of Performing Arts - Living History Centre

Each year in preparation for the The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, the Cow Palace hosts the Living History Centre College of Performing Arts.  Over 800 actors, hobbyists, and theater and history enthusiasts participate in more than 60 distinct workshops taught by a faculty of 40 instructors.


This program utilizes over fifty years of evolving technique in Theatrical Living History, beginning with five weekend days of workshops and continuing with recitals at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair for those who complete the required classes, receive approval of their costume and characterization, and pass an audition. The Living History Centre College of Performing Arts is a free program and is open to the public upon request.

Community Fundraisers

AIDs LifeCycle: The annual AIDS LifeCycle changes lives by raising funds for lifesaving medical and social services for people living with HIV/AIDS or at risk of infection. Over 7 days and 545 miles, riders cycle from the San Francisco Cow Palace to Los Angeles. The event raises awareness about the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic and funds services such as HIV testing, prevention, care, and much more.

Dreamforce: In 2016 the Cow Palace hosted Dreamforce, a joint event put on by philanthropists Lynne Benioff and her husband, Salesforce founder-DEO Marc Benioff, for the Salesforce concert and Dreamfest charity concert benefitting UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals.


Featuring U2, the Dreamfest concert raised $10 million at the sold-out show, on top of the over $250 million already pledged by the Benioffs to the UCSF hospitals to establish state-of-the-art care and facilities.