County fair opens Wednesday
IN ADDITION to the midway and the animal exhibits, the arts and craft exhibit is also popular with fairgoers.
Come one, come all, to the 75th anniversary of the Sonoma County Fair, which begins Wednesday, July 27, and will continue until Sunday, Aug. 14. Step inside the gates and take a nice big whiff of that "fair air," the deep-fried foods, the gardens and the palpable excitement. Then dash off to whichever of the numerous attractions catch your fancy.
Perhaps it's the cattle drive that will be taking place Saturday, Aug. 7. Cowboys will begin driving the herd toward the fairgrounds at 10 a.m., reaching the fairgrounds at approximately 11 a.m. Catch them on the way or wait for them to arrive. For the thrill-seekers out there, the fair offers an opportunity to be a guest wrangler.
If you can't get enough of the animals, come to one of the many livestock shows. Among the animals shown will be rabbits, dogs, sheep, steers, cattle, pigs, goats and more. And that doesn't count the numerous subdivisions.
Many Sonoma Valley residents will be showing animals they've selected, purchased, fed and groomed all in anticipation of the fair. And for those who want to pet animals and see them up close, the Great American Petting Zoo awaits.
Fairgoers who want to participate in something not involving livestock may be drawn to any of the fair's many contests. Perhaps you have a piercing, glass-shattering scream? It may come in handy at the SCREAM contest. Or maybe you have an unusual talent for blowing giant bubblegum bubbles? Show off your skills at the Bubblegum Bubble Blowing contest. Know your Harry Potter trivia? Come answer questions about the books and movies and win prizes. These are only a few of the many contests open to fairgoers.
If you haven't a competitive bone in your body, head on down to the flower show. This year's garden theme is, "A Stroll Down Memory Lane." Each garden will represent a theme from a previous year at the Hall of Flowers, beginning in 1952 with the theme "Sonoma County Freedom Fair." Other themes include "Petal to the Metal," "The Gardens Time Forgot," "Gold Gate Gardens," "Floral Reef" and more. For those who want to take home a piece of the wonder, the Fair Flower Show Plant Sale will take place on Monday, Aug. 15. Other exhibits include the Fine Art and Photography show, Baked Food and Preserves show and Home Art show, with both junior and adult categories.
If music is your muse, there are concerts galore to attend. Country music star Trace Adkins will be performing Aug. 11, while Huey Lewis and the News takes the stage Aug. 9. David Crowder Band, a popular Christian worship group, will perform on Aug. 10. For a more retro experience, go listen to the Fondettes, a young, female vocal quartet specializing in the music of the World War II era, who can be heard on Aug. 10. If you desire something a little more cultural, perhaps you'll enjoy Oyé World Drummers, focused on Cuban, African and Brazilian drumming.
Robin Noelle, publicity director for the fair, said, "There's a lot of older events and traditions we're reviving. We brought back the sidewalk procession, which will take place opening night. It's a walk from downtown to the fairgrounds and anyone who joins will get in free. We're also going to have a living flag made out of people wearing red, white and blue baseball caps on opening night. There's also going to be a fireworks show, which has kind of fallen by the wayside in recent years, and a patriotic sing-along."
For any Potterheads out there, the weekend of July 30 and 31 should be heaven. There will be potion-mixing contests, Golden Snitch hunts, broom flying lessons, quidditch skills practice, a Harry Potter look-alike contest and more.
Come watch a racehorse (or a dachshund) speed around the track, either in a Horse Race or the Derby Dog Dash. Delight in the rhythmic thud of hooves and the jockeys hanging on tight, or watch as the dog's ears and tongues flap in the wind as they run.
If you prefer your dogs in water rather than on land, check out the Splash Dogs Competition, a fan-favorite event. Dogs compete for distance, diving from a dock into a 40-foot pool.
The carnival rides are one of the main attractions, of course, with names like the Wave Swinger and the Orbiter. The rides vary from gentle kiddie rides to intense thrill rides, with something for everyone somewhere on the spectrum. For a special treat, come during the evening when many of the rides are lit up in a rainbow of colors.
Of course, any fair round-up would be incomplete without a discussion about the food. The first category is the All-American (Carnivorous) Classics: burgers, hot dogs, barbecue and pulled pork, sausages, chicken strips and more. Craving Italian? Grab some pizza, pasta, meatballs or salads at any of the Italian vendors sprinkled throughout the fairgrounds. Perhaps it's Asian food you crave. Come try egg rolls on a stick or take a visit to a Japanese steak house. There is Mexican food in abundance, located mostly in the aptly named Mexican Village. Burritos, enchiladas and tamales await.
Let's not forget the glory that is the fair dessert. Where else can you get frozen chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick or a variety of homemade pies at your disposal? And because this is Wine Country, after all, there are wine, beer and cocktails available.
Noelle recommends that if people only plan to spend one day at the fair, make it Aug. 7. "It's Farmers Day and it's really fun. We're going to have the cattle drive, Ms. Rodeo, Mexican Fiesta Day, a vaudeville show and a lot more."
For more information regarding all things fair-related, or to get tickets, visit sonomacountyfair.com or call 545-4200.