I've always said, and thought, that if you've seen one fair, you've seem 'em all. For the most part, I still think that's true, but if you go to a fair, the one in Nevada County is a pretty good choice.
This one has all the things that all the other fairs have. You've got the FFA and 4-H kids raising their animals. There are ribbons for crafts and various homemade items and recipes, and lots of tchotchkes, knickknacks, baubles, demonstrations, workshops, and displays of everything from the latest kitchen gadget to how to grow the perfect tomato. Of course there are the carnival rides and games, and the thing worth going to the fair for the most—the food.
When I was pre-teen and teenager, the can't miss item at the Antelope Valley Fair was the Sioux burger. I don't know what they did to those things to spice them up, but they sure were good. In Nevada County, people will stand in line for over an hour to get a corn dog from the Job's Daughters booth. I don't know they are worth standing in line that long, but the ugly-looking, slightly-overcooked rejects that they would send over to the radio station booth once in awhile were excellent, and we didn't have to stand in the sun forever to get them.
KNCO Radio, where I work, has a huge presence at the Nevada County Fair. The booth is a gazebo located right in the center of the fairgrounds. We give away free stuff, sign people up for drawings, and also act as the information center—telling people where the ATMs are, what time the Monster Truck show starts, and where the closest ice cream vendor is. All full and part time employees are required to work at least one two-hour shift, but it's a lot of fun, and it beats being stuck in the office.
This fair is rather short—only running from Wednesday to Sunday. I remember the Antelope Valley Fair in Lancaster going for 11 days, and I think it's 2˝ weeks now. The California State Fair seems to run forever, but was done before this one got started. It's hard to believe I'm thinking this, let alone writing it, but if this fair was extended a few more days, that would be okay by me.
Some fairs have big name concert entertainment. That's not really true here, but there is a rodeo, monster trucks, and this year was the return of a demolition derby. Having a crowd of a few thousand scream and holler when a car smashes into another one, and then a third one crashing into them both just epitomizes the fair experience. And the best part for me, I got paid to be there.
The best part about the Nevada County Fair, though, is the setting. At about 2500 feet just outside the city limits of Grass Valley, the grounds are lined with pine trees. One woman I talked to while working at the booth (I'd say she was a little older than me) told me her father was once the C-E-O of the fair. She said that he used to say that the fairgrounds were “landscaped by nature.” That may be a pretty good way to put it.
I'll stick by my statement that if you've seen one fair, you've seen them all, but Nevada County is a heck of a place to see a fair.