Grab your straw hat and sunglasses. It’s time for that yearly pilgrimage to Cal Expo, where heat waves rise up from black asphalt toward the monorail tracks as blues music wafts through the corn dog-scented air. The California State Fair runs Aug. 15 through Sept. 1, with its own colorful cast of characters eager to greet you.
Who: Charlie Boghosian, owner, Chicken Charlie’s
Where you’ll find him: In the main food line
“Fried food is fun food. It’s crispy, it’s delicious and it’s not easy to make at home. You’re not going to find a deep-fried Twinkie everywhere, so if you have one or two at the fair once a year, that’s OK. And they’re delicious.”
Who: Alvaro Ruiz, ride supervisor, Ray Cammack Shows
Where you’ll find him: In the Magnificent Midway, operating or supervising one of the following rides: Merry-Go-Round, Eli 16 Wheels, Tilt A Whirl, Starship 2000, Cyclone, Mardi Gras or Surf Shack
“Carnivals are like birthday parties: They only come once a year and people wait for it. And it’s a carnival. It’s not like an amusement park; it’s better than that, and it’s cheaper.”
Who: Brice Linglet, owner, West Coast Innovations
Where you’ll find him: In Building D demonstrating a European ceramic gourmet grater
“We’re show people. We get up there with a microphone and interact with people and make them laugh. Not everyone buys, but everyone stops and everyone has a good time. I consider it an art.”
Who: Kevin Thomas, area supervisor, Events Services Department. During the fair, Thomas oversees a crew of 30 who set up and break down shows and exhibits while keeping the grounds clean.
Where you’ll find him: Covering the Magnificent Midway, Expo Center and main gate/monorail areas
“I go pretty high in the air, 60 feet sometimes, hanging tarps, banners [for shows]. I am not afraid of heights; that’s why I love doing it.”
Who: Abbie Nelson, Five Star Land and Livestock, Angus seedstock producer
Where you’ll find her: In the Livestock Pavilion
“We always try to bring baby calves to the fair because they are so intriguing. We think that it’s important for the public to have the display, because a lot of people never get the chance to see them otherwise.”