10 reasons why you should visit the California State Fair, in photos

The aroma of caramel corn wafting through the morning air. Bleating sheep led by 4-H kids in crisp white uniforms. Food booths as far as the eye can see. I’ve said it before and I stand by it: One of the best things about living in Sacramento is going to the California State Fair.

I admit it. I’m crazy about the fair. The obsession started early, thanks to my parents. And I’m pretty sure I’ve attended the fair at least most of the years I’ve been alive, including, as my dear bridesmaids Brenda and Shannon will recall, just days before my wedding three years ago this week. What can I say? My fair love runs deep.

While some scoff, I have 10 really great reasons for you to visit the State Fair with your favorite people this year:

1. Animals!

I never feel more like a city slicker than when I wander the livestock pavilion gawking at the big beautiful beasts therein. I maintain a serious affinity for moo cows and piggy buns, although I must admit visiting the fair left me with a serious hankering for ribs.

2. Cute BABY animals!

Goodness, is there anything cuter than a just-born animal? The pigs and little lamb were born just the day before we visited. Throughout the California State Fair’s run, you can catch live births, too. Last year, we watched a calf come into the world. Incredible! (And messy.)

3. Deep fried delicacies

Okay, so I know you can get deep fried twinkies and fried bacon-anything, but I’m a fair food purist. It’s corn dogs, artichoke hearts and funnel cakes for this girl.

4. Agriculture–Learning where the food comes from

A theme of this year’s California State Fair revolved around urban farming which as a backyard (and frontyard!) gardener, I really appreciated. This year, I really loved the Farmer’s Market fruitstand where we bought fresh, chilled fruit (to go with our corndogs).

5. California county pride

If you’re a State Fair newbie, take my advice and plan your visit around the air conditioning. I normally start at the livestock pavilions in the morning, weave my way to the farm area and then cool off in the County Exhibits. Each California county creates a scene to show off their points of pride. This year, I loved Glenn county’s giant bumble bee.

6. Gadgets you didn’t know you needed

Connected to the County Exhibits is a building or two of gadgets, gizmos, clothing, sewing machines, BBQs, beauty products and pretty much anything you can think of for sale. This year, I found the solicitations way more obnoxious than normal except for the Miracle Whisk fellow. We watched his entire spiel and bought a bag full of whisks (Thank you, Marm!). He had mom my hooked at homemade cappucino foam.

7. Lots and lots of kid-oriented activities

Not just midway activities and rides either. The California State Fair has so many kid-friendly components that introduce children to agriculture and animals, teach them about art/gardening/bugs/science, etc. As a youngster, I remember milking cows, betting on the piglet races and not quite winning corn husking/eating contests.

8. Arts and crafts

I’m always astounded at the monster talent demonstrated in the exhibition buildings–arts and crafts, photography, sculpting, painting, quilting, woodwork–from artists of all ages. One year my niece Sydney had her California mission project on display, it was such a work of art!

9. Performances, big and small

As a veteran of the State Fair stage (yes, you do see a 16-year old version of me in the middle there), I love that the fair boasts all sorts of performances–dance, music, hypnonists even. On any given day, you can catch little baby ballerinas twirling, professional companies and even musical headliners like Hoobastank, Weird Al, Third Day and The Four Tops.

10. Fun for the whole family

I’ve left out so many parts–the horse racing, sporting events, wine tasting, beer garden, midway–but suffice to say, the California State Fair is fun for the entire family. Visit BigFun.org to learn more. (And no, I’m not employed by the fair. I just love it!)


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