Discovering ‘California’s Gold’ at the State Fair

The big fun during the month of July in our region is, without a doubt, the California State Fair.

Moved from the end of August three years ago to mid-July so more youngsters could attend during their summer vacations, the fair is still all about celebrating family, agriculture and the Golden State.

This year marks the fair’s 160th year of showcasing horses, cattle, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits and just about everything that wears fur or feathers on a daily basis.

New to the fair this year are the iconic letters (C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A) from the entrance to Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim. The resort donated the letters last fall to the Friends of the California State Fair, a nonprofit organization of volunteers. The Golden 1 Credit Union sponsored the relocation of the letters so future generations can enjoy them here in the heart of the Golden State.

In many ways, it’s an appropriate venue for the letters. One will experience the rich heritage from California’s bounty as a whole here, as well as what can be.

In over two decades of attending the fair, I’ve come to expect the basics — and the fair certainly does deliver on its theme of “Food–Family–Fun.”

There are deep-fried foods on a stick everywhere. Bacon-wrapped turkey legs for those who prefer their sticks “au natural,” and more. In an effort to provide healthier fare, there are also grilled fish and shrimp tacos. The new adventure food this year: spaghetti ice cream!

The Midway has all the old favorites, plus an all-new 100-foot high-flying Vertigo, a White Water Log Flume and a Zip Line that will take you right over the fairgrounds.

There are events galore, and an old favorite made a comeback last Sunday: the Dachshund Derby. After a two-year hiatus, fair officials relented and brought this popular event back.

In the exposition halls and the county exhibits, I fear the Era of Austerity is still upon us. I guestimate that the exhibit space is reduced by about 20 percent over previous years. Still, it is very worthwhile to check out what our young people and local artists are up to.

In the county exhibits, I confess to being somewhat let down by our beloved El Dorado County. This year’s offering feels somewhat flat compared to previous years. I confess I miss the days of whipping the pants off Placer County’s annual offering. However, I am glad that the volunteers who make our county display “happen” stepped up nonetheless. It would be sad to be unaccounted for.

The highlight of this year’s fair for me, however, is the “Celebration of Huell Howser” exhibit in the heart of the Counties Exhibits. Howser, who passed away last year, covered all aspects of the Golden State on his PBS series, “California’s Gold.”

Howser loved the Golden State, without a doubt. And the residents of California return that feeling. Fairgoers are lining up to look at Howser’s memorabilia and photos. They are also sharing their memories of the famous Tennessee Transplant. Because of this love of Howser, this may be the most “interactive” exhibit at the fair.

For ticket information, hours and parking information, visit bigfun.org.

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected]

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Posted by on Jul 14 2013.
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