It’s time for the annual California State Fair and, if the weather on opening weekend was any indicator, the fair is off to a good start, financially. Cooler than usual July temperatures helped the fair enjoy its first year in the black last year, and fair officials hope to duplicate that record this year.
No one is saying it in the press (yet) but this year the fair is all about the economy. And it may be as much about what is missing from the fair as it is about what there is to see.
One of my favorite exhibits at the fair is the Counties Exhibit. This year, according to the fair, there are 30 counties on show. But, wait. There are 58 counties in California. Nearly half of the counties are missing — largely because there simply is no money to participate. Last year our El Dorado County’s state fair docents told me they were uncertain as to the future of the exhibit.
The annual Dachshund Derby is MIA, also. This event was most popular with local residents (El Dorado Hills even has a Grand Championship winner). I am at a loss to understand why this event was pulled. The entrants had to “pay to play” every year ($10 per dachshund) and the event had corporate sponsorship from Blue Buffalo Dog Food. State Fair officials could give me no reason why this popular event was gone, other than “money.” In its place the fair offers us “Splash Dogs,” which is fun for the big breeds. But it’s not the thunder of tiny paws.
Sifting through the lists of events for this year, comparing them to previous years, it appears that a number of venues are missing ut the fair has changed its website so much that it is difficult to tell. Fair staff are actually proud of the fact that they did not spend the money to produce a media kit to inform the public. Everything is on Facebook; feel free to dig for yourself. I’m still digging.
What’s still there
The competitions remain for 4-H, livestock, foods and preserves and the arts. Because these rely on entrants to produce the items on show (including the money to enter) they are relatively “funding neutral” for the fair.
In the Expo Building check out the Youth Art and Design exhibit. There you will see that our young El Dorado County residents do, indeed, have talent.
Chelsea I. Lewis won a first place ribbon for her pastel and charcoal drawing in the ages 16-19 category for “The Fighter.”
Alexys L. Fosbenner won two second place ribbons for her photography (ages 13-15 category) with “Dragon Fly” and “My Bird Tino.”
Megan A. Keshishian won a second place ribbon for her pen, pencil and printmaking entry (ages 16-19), “Captured Sun.”
Tarah M. Kubes won a second place ribbon for her pastel and charcoal work (ages 13-15), “The Knot.”
Amanda H. Luong also won a second place ribbon in the pastel and charcoal (ages 16-19) category, with an untitled work.
The majority of these El Dorado Hills students attend St. Francis High School, which has one of the best art programs in the region. It swiftly may have one of the only arts programs in the region if school budgets continue to be cut back. El Dorado Hills has a significant number of students who attend the region’s private schools. However, I wonder about the “missing” entries from Oak Ridge High and the other schools. Where are they?
The California State Fair is supposed to be a showcase of the state’s talent and bounty, a place where each county can show off its best and brightest. Yes, it’s fun. I heartily endorse the fair and think we should all support it. But calling it “bigger” fun? I wonder.
If you pull the camera back from the huge chick in the commercials and put it into true perspective … that yellow bear looks mighty small.