Pictures At An Exhibition: The Nevada County Fair
August 12, 2019

The theme this year for the Nevada County Fair in Grass Valley, California was 'Farms, Food, and Fun'. When I was a kid going to the Antelope Valley Fair in Lancaster, California, as far as I was concerned, the theme was 'If You've Seen One Fair, You've Seen Them All'.

I've learned over the years that that's not exactly true. At the radio station, we staff the centrally located gazebo at the fairgrounds, and each of us contribute several two to four hours shifts during the fair's five-day run. It's busy but fun, and we're occasionally treated with goodies like corn dogs from the Job's Daughter's booth next door. As you enter the grounds, you walk along a marigold-lined path. If you turn right when you get to our gazebo, you'll find Treat Street—the most appropriately named sidewalk maybe in the world. There's corn dogs, stuffed potatoes, pulled pork, and teriyaki chicken. Elsewhere you'll find turkey legs, grilled cheese sandwiches, snow cones, and ice cream.

For some reason, this year (my seventh at the gazebo) more than any other, I was thinking a lot about the Antelope Valley Fair as a kid. I had to have a Sioux Burger (pretty spicy, but good) and a frozen banana, and when I was little I enjoyed the carnival stuff. As a teenager I worked in the Rainbow Girls ice cream booth and went to country concerts. The Nevada County Fair has arena events like Monster Trucks, rodeo, and a demolition derby, but in Lancaster, we got to see Johnny Cash, Barbara Mandrell, and others. Even sixties bands like the Grass Roots and Paul Revere and the Raiders performing in the 'free area'.

In Nevada County, they do seem to bring in a new attraction every year, and this year, it was a log ride. I didn't go on it, but was happy to interview the kids that did. The Antelope Valley Fair never had that. The setting is much different in Grass Valley. Pine trees everywhere, and very picturesque. At the 'new' fairgrounds in Lancaster, there are very few trees. I actually haven't been there even though it's probably 20 years old, but the old grounds were nice (even though I parked in a 7-11 parking lot one year and got towed. Boy was dad mad!).

In Grass Valley, the fair has come and gone. Wednesday through Sunday with an estimated hundred-thousand people attending. School starts Wednesday, so for kids and parents, it was a nice last hurrah before normalcy returns. In Lancaster, the fair starts next week, runs for about ten days, and a quarter million people are expected to attend. More concerts, too (I was just checking. Collective Soul and Gin Blossoms, among others). It used to run through Labor Day.

So, thinking about it while writing this, maybe the fair is the same thing every year. It's not exactly the same, though, and the variations are what make it interesting. If you aren't involved by either working in a booth, showing animals, or taking the kids or grandkids, maybe every year isn't really a requirement. If you haven't been in awhile, you should check it out. What's so bad about a little slice of farms, food, and fun? It only lasts a few days.

The 'White Water' log ride was a new attraction this year, and a pretty big hit. Ironically,
the weather for the fair was the coolest in decades, but kids (and adults) didn't seem to mind.

Before the annual Squash Mobile Races. The modified racers on display, getting ready to hit
the ramo. The Fair theme this year was Farms, Food, and Fun--an example here of all three.

And they're off! The fastest five seconds in sports (if that)! The fire engine probably could
have used lights and siren. It was a little slow. Winners of each race got Monster Truck tickets.

Six year-old Bella Morrison with her winning squash. It's painted blue with the fins attached.
She provided a very cute sound bite explaining how she (and mom and dad) made it.

Smokey Bear turned 75 on Friday, and celebrated his birthday at the Nevada County Fair
with a few of his firefighter and law enforcement friends. Not bad for 75.

Not from the fair, obviously, but I didn't post this last week. It's the marquee at the Kiggins
Theater in Vancouver, WA. Not the most traditional place for a memorial, but way cool.

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