Fair Play


Sacramento is once again its searing-hot August self. That means it’s time to brave the heat and hit the California State Fair, taking place Aug. 17–Sept. 3 at Cal Expo. This year’s theme is all about getting in touch with your inner child. So, whether you’re taking the kids or are ready to rekindle that youthful spirit in yourself, here are 14 ways to join in the fun at this year’s fair.

1. Toys R You (Expo Center Building 5)

Want to play in a life-size toy house or ride a kiddie train? If so, Toytopia’s for you. It’s filled with toys, toys and more toys. Learn about the science behind familiar favorites (how does a Slinky slink?) and view exhibits of old-fashioned playthings in the Toy Time Warp Tunnel. Take it all in, then watch a yo-yo demonstration and build a Lego flower.

2. Melting Icebergs (Counties Building Side B)

Is it really getting hotter or is it just your imagination? Find out by watching the Department of Water Resources’ Science on a Sphere, a video display on climate change, then visit California Green Dream Expo to discover the latest ways to go green. (Don’t miss the hybrid and electric vehicles on display.)

3. No More Lines for the Loo (Wine Garden)

Forget the cook-offs, giant Legos, Huey Lewis and The News concert and exquisite art in the California Fine Arts exhibit: THERE’S A NEW BATHROOM IN THE WINE GARDEN! Say goodbye to those long lines.

4. High-Wire Act (Kaiser Permanente Kids Park)

Are your kids sick and tired of watching you knock back Zins and Cabs in the Wine Garden? OK, maybe it’s their turn to have fun. Take them to the Kids Park to watch the Nerveless Nocks Thrill Show, a daredevil high-flying act, or to learn how to throw pizza dough high in the air from Tony the Pizza Tosser.

5. Rodeo for Dummies (California Ranchland)

At the newly designed California Ranchland outside of the Livestock Pavilion, explore the world of ranching through hands-on programs at mini ranchettes. Each ranchette features a roping arena, petting farm, feed store, potbellied pig ranch, pedal-tractor pull and rodeo school.

6. Newborn Piggies (Demonstration Farm)

Ever watch a pig, sheep or goat give birth? Witness the miracle of life at the Livestock Nursery, where mother and baby farm animals are monitored by veterinarians around-the-clock.

7. Firefighter Food Fest (California Kitchen, Expo Center Building 2)

They call it California Kitchen, but you’re likely to find foods from all around the world here, not to mention chef competitions, cooking demonstrations and baking contests. Firefighters from throughout the state will compete in cook-offs, and restaurant chefs will create dishes from Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Filipino, Mexican, African, Salvadoran and other world fares. And, yes, there will be samples for tasting.


8. Gunslingers Galore (Rodeo Arena)

Are those gunshots? Yes, but no worries&emdash;they’re blanks, shot by the Cowboy Mounted Shooters. The shooters competition on Saturday, Aug. 25, brings together the state’s top cowboy shooters to compete in a timed event. Watch them ride through an obstacle course of balloons, shooting them out with black-powder pistols.

9. I Lost on Jeopardy, Baby (Golden 1 Stage)

Weird Al Yankovic, in all his weirdness, performs on Labor Day. Other acts set to appear include Huey Lewis and The News, Chicago, Third Day, Lonestar, The All-American Rejects, and KC and the Sunshine Band.

10. Say Cheese (Commercial Cheese Competition, California Kitchen, Expo Center Building 2)

Stinky cheese is a good thing. Top California cheeses (stinky and not) selected by judges from Sunset magazine, UC Davis and the American Cheese Society will be on display&emdash;behind glass. (Sorry, no tasting!)

11. Deep-Fried Elvis (Chicken Charlie’s, Promenade Space 104)

Food vendor Charlie Boghas plans to outdo last year’s Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich. The connoisseur of deep-fried everything is coming out with the Deep-Fried Elvis, a fried version of Elvis Presley’s favorite sandwich: peanut butter, honey and banana. Calorie count? Don’t ask.

12. Dianabilia (The Creative Arts Building, Expo Center Building 8)

Marking the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, The Memory of a Rose exhibit showcases collectibles inspired by the princess: china, books, scarves, dolls, a replica of her tiara and other memorabilia.

13. Man Overboard (Expo Center Building 4)

Try your hand at a Jet Ski simulator or go fishin’ in the gigantic demo fishing tank at the Department of Boating and Waterways exhibit. Catch the water safety puppet show and man overboard stage demonstration on water safety.

14. Twisted Metal (Rodeo Arena)

At the Demolition Derby (Sept. 2 and 3), live out your fantasy of smashing into the car ahead of you with impunity. The trick: Be the last driver standing&emdash;a metaphor for life, perhaps?