Gas station without pumps

2010 September 19

County Fair with Pictures

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My family did go to the Santa Cruz County Fair as I mentioned earlier, and I did take a few (over 200) photos.  I’ve selected a few of the highlights of the fair to include in this blog. We took the bus (which doesn’t usually go to the County Fairgrounds, but the SCMTD added an extra route this weekend).  It took about 2 hours from our house to the fairgrounds—about the same time it took me to bicycle last week.  Because of the travel time, we decided to spend most of the day at the fair (5.5 hours), getting the first bus to the fair and the second-to-last one home.

The theme of the fair this year was “Apple Pies and Family Ties”, which was well done in the winning kids’ garden display:

garden exhibit

I believe that this was the winning garden display in the junior division. I particularly like the terra-cotta person.

The first thing we did on getting to the fair (after paying our $10 admission fees) was to watch the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs.  As it turned out, these piglets are not from Alaska, but were born in California (at another county fair) 2 months ago.  Who knows what happened to the ones they started the summer with.

Racing pigs hurdling the first hurdle (Strawberry in the lead)

Here are three of the racing pigs at the first hurdle, with Strawberry in the lead.

A typical start to a pig race.

Here we see the start of the last heat of the pig races, with one pig facing the wrong way in the starting gate.

After seeing the pigs race, my wife’s thoughts and mine turned to pork, so we went to the Corralitos Sausage booth:

Locally made sausages are my wife's and my first choice of County Fair food.

We were planning to go back later for apple pie (from Gizdich ranch), but we never got around to it.  We did get drinks (Green Tea smoothie for me, lemonade for my wife, soda for my son) later in the afternoon, but a funnel cake as a late-afternoon snack meant none of us had room for pie.

After the pig racing, we went to see the best-dressed-goat competition.  I was not in a good position to get good photos (wrong side of the arena), but I did get one of a goat in sheep’s clothing:

Not being a farm boy, I sometimes have trouble telling sheep and goats apart, but this little girl (dressed as Little Bo Peep) was definitely trying to mess with my mind.

While the judges were mulling over who won the best-dressed-goat competition (and the kids bravely tried to keep the goats from escaping over the straw bales), we went to look at the livestock barns.  I’ll spare you all the pictures of cute pigs, goats, sheep, and cattle.  You really don’t get the full effect of the barns without the olfactory component anyway.  Actually, the 4H kids had done a superb job of keeping the barns clean, and these are open-sided affairs so there really isn’t that much odor, even in the pig barn.   You do have to see the emu from the petting barn, though:

Head of the emu in the petting barn.

The emu was probably the most popular animal in the petting zoo. It was very fast to grab carrot slices left on the top of its fence, and was not averse to reaching out for more.

I also have to show you some of the model railroad exhibit, though I’ll spare you the numerous close-ups of the indoor display and just give you two shots from the outdoor display:

about a third of the outdoor model railroad layout

There is an enormous model railroad exhibit that gets bigger every year. This picture only includes about a third of the outdoor setup.

accident at Bob's Biker Bar

If you look closely near the center of the previous picture, you'll see a small turquoise building. Here is a close-up shot of just that tiny part of the layout. (We liked the use of cement blocks to make the tunnel also.)

After the model railroad, we went to the poultry barn. I’ll spare you the cute-chicken photos and the turkey photos, not because I think you’d be bored, but because the little cages in the poultry barn interfered with good photography, and I’m embarrassed to admit that none of the photos in the poultry barn were worth the trouble of cropping and uploading.

After getting a hot dog for my son (who had not partaken of the Corralitos sausages earlier), we went to see the Sea Lion show, put on by the Moss Landing Marine Lab, just a few miles down the road. The show is essentially the same every year (but we go to the County Fair for its traditions, not for a lot of novelty).  They did all the classic tricks with sea lions:

sea lion doing flipper stand

The flipper stand relies on a flexible back and strong front flippers. Note: sea lions have the strong front flippers to do these stands, but seals do not.

Sea lion balancing a ball on its nose

Sea lions have good eye-nose coordination and strong, flexible necks, making it fairly easy to train them to balance balls on their noses.

Unfortunately, I did not manage to get a shot of the combination flipper-stand and ball balancing, which is really the classic circus act for sea lions.  After sitting in the sun for the sea lions, we wanted some shade, so went to see the floriculture exhibits.  Most of the cut flowers were wilting (today was the last day of the fair), but the ikebana and bonsai exhibits were looking good.

Ikebana featuring a protea

The ikebana display had many fine arrangements, and this was probably the strangest of them. We found the large protea a rather striking display, but I'm not sure how much the orchid added. Some of the other ikebana were more graceful, but this one was the most memorable.

14-year-old Bonsai of Japanese juniper

There were several fine bonsai on display, but this classic Japanese juniper will have to stand in for the whole show.

After the floriculture buildings, the indoor gardens, and the orchid greenhouse, we went to the Yesterday’s Farm exhibit of the Agricultural History Project, which now has a very fine collection of  farm implements and machinery, including a lot of old belt-driven and pedal-driven machine tools.  This is also where the handweavers and spinners show their art, and the old gasoline engine collectors putter with their machines.  I’m not much into internal combustion engines and old cars, but the antique car barn did have a couple of fine old bicycles.

old bikes in the antique car barn

Behind this finely restored penny-farthing is a 1900 Columbia chainless safety bike, that uses bevel gears and a rod transmission.

While our son went to the carnival rides to see if he could find ones tame enough for him (like me he is somewhat susceptible to motion sickness), but large enough to accept teenage riders, my wife and I looked at the fine art displays, crafts, and collections.  I’ll spare you the weird collection pictures (like the collection of Betty Boop memorabilia), mainly because most of the collections were in glass cases and I do not have polarizing filters for my digital camera, so the reflections spoil the shots.  I have to show you one of them, though:

scary chair from a collection of doll's chairs

This rather scary chair was part of a large collection of unusual doll's chairs. The toes under the hassock are particularly creepy.

I’ll also spare you the numerous photos of sculptures in the Fine Arts Building, though I think that some of them were quite successful.  I don’t know if artists ever get commissions or patrons as a result of the County Fair, but they certainly get a lot of people viewing their work: far more than one would get in a gallery around here.  I will close with just one picture from the Fine Arts Building, a piece that I doubt I would have seen anywhere but at the County Fair:

Leg-shaped lamp in pique assiette

I think that this work in pique assiette should be titled "Leg of Lamp", but I somehow suspect that it isn't.

We did not get to see all we wanted to at the Fair (the tractor parade conflicted with the sea lion show, for example, and my wife still hasn’t had a chance to tour the Rodger’s House), but five and half hours was enough for us.  We’ll get another chance next year.

Leave comments about your own experiences with county fairs this year.


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