Sonoma County Fair opens Thursday

The Sonoma County Fair opens Thursday and promises to have visitors feeling groovy with this year’s theme, “Peace, Love and Fair.” The hall of flowers will feature “Flower Power” and there will be a Magic Bus you can ride for a trip back to the 1960s.

New this year is the Acrobuffos Water Bomb Show that will wander the fair grounds tossing water balloons and playing loud opera music. You can also don a flight suit for Astronaut Training School or tour the Haunted Mansion.

Then of course there are the mainstays – the horse races, cow competitions, Ferris wheel whirling and corn dog downing. Top it off with the Sea Lion Encounter, the Fido 500 Races and a visit to the Carnival Candy stand and you’ll be in fair euphoria.

At the “Flower Power” exhibit in the Hall of Flowers, look for exhibits based on the songs “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, “Purple Haze” by Jimmy Hendrix, “Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Blue Bayou” by Roy Orbison, “Scarlet Begonias” by The Grateful Dead, “Crimson & Clover” by Tommy James & The Shondels, “Red, Red Wine” by Neil Diamond, “Black Magic Woman” by Santana, and “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey – 10 songs and 10 gardens bringing them to life in a floral showcase. Waterfalls, fountains, lighting and other special effects will enhance fairgoers’ journey.

Flower Power is “a perfect theme for a flower show, and the extensive exhibit space at the Sonoma County Fair is the perfect place for it,” said Greg Duncan, master designer for the Hall of Flowers. “I’ve wanted to do this show for a long time. This is like creating a time machine that will take us back to 1968 – back to the ‘far out’ colors and powerful music of an amazing era.”

There will be live music at four different venues including local talent on stage at the Community Theater. The Community Theater includes a Battle of the Bands on Friday, July 25 and again on Friday, Aug. 1; Country Joe McDonald on Wednesday, July 30; a Beatles tribute band, the Sun Kings, on Thursday, July 31; an Elvis impersonation contest on Saturday, Aug. 2; and Joni Morris Presents Patsy Cline on Saturday, Aug. 9.

There will be free music on the Park Stage daily with multiple shows each day.

The acts change daily and feature everything from 1940s jazz to rock and roll, to country to folk rock, blues, funk and Hawaiian music.

There’s also music at the Brews and Blues Lounge and Sliders Gastro Pub and Sports Bar. And the Fourth Street Strolling Jazz Band will wander the grounds daily from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, visitors can wander through the various barns containing cattle, sheep and goats, rabbits, poultry and swine. And youngsters can get up close at the Great American Petting Zoo.

Farmer’s Day is set for Sunday, July 27, and features a variety of events in the Chris Beck Arena including wild cow milking, a draft horse demonstration, a pig scramble for kids 5 to 11 years old, cow patty frisbee and more.

Back again is the Helm & Sons Carnival offering whimsical rides for the little ones and lots of thrills for teen and adult riders. Ride the Zipper, tour the Haunted Mansion and try your skills at the midway games and attractions.

Seniors over 60 are free on Thursdays; Fridays are free for kids 7 to 12; and youngsters under 6 get in free every day.

The fair runs from July 24 to Aug. 10, closed on Mondays, at the fairgrounds at 1350 Bennett Valley Road in Santa Rosa. Details can be found at sonomacountyfair.com and 545-4200.