Summer Fun Guide

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How Trivial Can You Be?

Most of us who enjoy playing trivia games do so for one or more of the following reasons:

• While trivia can actually be translated as details or even analysis, what it’s usually thought of is merely a collection of unimportant facts. This can be very liberating. It means that even if you don’t happen to know that Paul McCartney’s real first name is James or that Ringo Starr’s real full name is Richard Starkey, you can still pass the bar exam, chuckle knowingly while reading a physics journal or discover a cure for the common comb-over. In short, you might still be viewed as smart.

• On the other hand, if you’re knowledgeable in certain categories of trivia, you might actually sound smart&emdash;in the same way that your ability to work out the daily New York Times crossword puzzle (especially on Saturday) or to shout out the correct questions to Alex Trebek’s answers on TV’s Jeopardy! (without taping the show the day before) can dazzle your friends and bewilder your enemies.

In short, if you’re able to name every member of the U.S. Supreme Court during the Woodrow Wilson administration, it will probably impress people&emdash;as long as you don’t do it in the middle of a funeral or freeway. By the same token, your knowing the lifetime batting averages of 1950s baseball players will mainly awe the patrons of bars with names like The 19th Hole, The Fourth Strike or The Fifth Down.

All of that aside, here’s our first Sacramento Area Trivia Contest. While the answers will not appear upside down at the end of this article, rest assured the writer drafted many of the questions while in that exact position.

1. This Sacramento mayor once quipped, Sacramento is just Fresno with trees. (Choose only one answer. Come on, how many people would’ve said that?)
-Heather Fargo
-Anne Rudin
-Phil Isenberg
-Burnett Miller

2. In the 1980s, the opening of this store was celebrated with a black-tie affair&emdash;demonstrating, perhaps, how few local events there were to attend while wearing tuxedos in the 1980s:
-Weinstocks, in Downtown Plaza (now a Macy’s store in Westfield Shoppingtown Downtown Plaza, which you’ll have to admit rolls much more easily off the tongue)
-Costco, in Folsom
-Target, on Riverside Boulevard

3. Which one of these franchises does not have an outlet in the Sacramento Convention Center?
-Midas Muffler
-Wolfgang Puck
-Starbucks

4. The late, great comic actor Tony Randall once did some TV spots for a local media outlet. The ad’s tagline began, If you really want to know and ended with:
-Listen to KFBK NewsTalk 1530
-Read The Bee
-Go to CNN dot-com
-Memorize the column ‘Sacramentions’ every month in Sacramento magazine

5. Multiple award-winning author Joan Didion set her first novel in Sacramento. What was it called?
-Run, River
-Play It As It Lays
-The Assembly
-Come Back to the Five and Dime, Willie Brown, Willie Brown

6. Mark Twain, who once wrote for the late Sacramento Union&emdash;though, to be fair, many issues were delivered on time&emdash;famously said that the coldest winter he ever experienced was in doing this:
-Fishing for salmon in Lake Tahoe
-Fishing for compliments in Grass Valley
-Spending a summer in San Francisco

7. The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission was created in this year:
-1987
-1977
-1847
-2007

8. Sacramento’s poet laureate is:
-Dr. Barbara O’Connor
-Donald O’Connor
-Julia Connor
-Chuck Connors

9. To restore and renovate the 116-year-old Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in 2005&emdash;whose top spire perches 217 feet above the sidewalk&emdash;the Sacramento contractor, Harbison Mahony Higgins, took this extraordinary measure:
-It trained very muscular pigeons to deliver delicious box lunches to the workers
-It hired high-wire workers called steeplejacks
-It invented The Tower of Babel, said to be the tallest ladder in the world
-It convinced the Catholic Archdiocese to convert the building into a one-story tilt-up

10. Two of these men never served as Sacramento city managers:
-Walter J. Slipe
-Robert Thomas
-Tim Leslie
-Leslie Moonves
-William H. Edgar

11. Which of these shows have been performed at the Sacramento Community Center Theater as part of California Musical Theatre’s Broadway Series?
-Mel Brooks’ The Producers
-Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
-Sir Elton John’s Aida
-Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python
-All of them
-None of them

12. OK, then, how about these shows&emdash;which of these have not been performed as part of California Musical Theatre’s Broadway Series at the Sacramento Community Center Theater?
-Annie Get Your Gun
-How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
-Bring In ‘da Noise, Bring In ‘da Funk
-Into the Woods
-Chicago
-None&emdash;they’ve all been performed here
-All of them

13. UC Davis’ still-newish performing arts center was named for a winemaker named below:
-Julio Gallo
-Robert Mondavi
-Thomas Thunderbird

14. Name the song by local singer-composer Jackie Greene that’s on the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning film Brokeback Mountain:
-I Can’t Quit You
-I Will Never Let You Go
-I Will Always Love You
-I’ll Be Home for Christmas

15. Rightly or wrongly, Sacramento’s overall weather climate is most typically called this:
-Caribbean
-Mediterranean
-Armenian
-Frustratin’

16. Which one of these is not a city in Sacramento County?
-Sacramento
-Folsom
-Isleton
-Galt
-West Sacramento
-Rancho Cordova
-Elk Grove
-Citrus Heights

17. Which one of these Sacramento-area women is not an Olympic gold-medal winner?
-Summer Sanders
-Cristina Mendonsa
-Debbie Meyer

18. This Sacramento-based business&emdash;we’ve shortened the names of each of the choices&emdash;has the distinction of holding California State Contractors License No. 8, one of the first ever issued:
-Granite
-Teichert
-Roebbelen
-Flintstone

19. Which of these businesses is not headquartered in West Sacramento?
-The Sacramento River Cats
-The Money Store
-Raley’s

20. While Rush Limbaugh’s radio stardom was famously launched in Sacramento, his ascent&emdash;from local celebrity to national media fixture&emdash;echoed that of this other KFBK alumnus:
-Harry Martin
-Morton Downey Jr.
-Robert Downey Jr.

21. When Joan Lunden was a local TV news anchor&emdash;before she became co-host of ABC-TV’s Good Morning America&emdash;what was her on-air name?
-Joan London
-Joan Blunden
-Joan Collins
-Lois Hart

22. Tower Theatre, Tower Liquor and Tower Cafe, on Broadway at Land Park Drive, are owned by the same company that owns Tower Records, Tower Books and Tower Video, also on Broadway at Land Park Drive.
-True
-False

23. The idea for Second Saturday, a collective open house for shows at local art galleries (and other businesses wanting to get in on the action), was the brainchild of the late Michael Himovitz. He freely admitted he stole the idea from Portland, Ore., which has a similar monthly event called:
-Second Thursday
-Fifth Tuesday
-Third Wednesday

24. Gallery owners in Davis got into the act as well, creating this like-themed monthly event:
-Second Friday
-First Monday
-Fourth Sunday

25. This fall marks the start of this season for the Sacramento Theatre Company:
-Its 25th
-Its 45th
-Its 65th

26. Former Gov. Jerry Brown&emdash;currently the mayor of Oakland and a candidate for state attorney general&emdash;spent this many nights in the new governor’s mansion in Carmichael, which had been built for his predecessor, Ronald Reagan:
-Five
-Unknown
-Zero

27. Then-Gov. Reagan, on the other hand, spent this many nights in that mansion, which was built for him:
-Five
-Unknown
-Zero

28. On a much more serious note: A segment of a North Natomas community built by Lennar Homes features streets named for firefighters and police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. The segment is referred to as this:
-Memorial Drive
-Honor Parkway
-Heroes Circle

29. Back to fun and games. A sign at its main entrance informs visitors that no adult will be admitted without a child to this Sacramento attraction:
-Discovery Museum’s Gold Rush History Center
-Fairytale Town
-Burr’s Ice Cream Parlor
-Vic’s Ice Cream Parlor
-The State Legislature

30. Serrano, the El Dorado Hills golf course/country club community, was initially built (with partners) by the same developer who created Riverlake, in the Pocket Area, and The Parkway, in Folsom. Who is he?
-Sid Dunmore
-Bill Parker
-Marvin Buzz Oates
-Les Skip Towne

31. Which of these restaurants does Randy Paragary not own?
-Zinfandel Grille
-Esquire Grill
-Centro Cocina Mexicana
-Paragary’s Bar and Oven

32. Which one of these hospitals is not within an approximately three-square-mile area in the city of Sacramento?
-Sutter General Hospital
-Kaiser Permanente
-Sutter Memorial Hospital
-UC Davis Medical Center
-Mercy Hospital of Sacramento

33. This world-famous composer was commissioned by the Sacramento Philharmonic to compose a musical piece&emdash;which will be presented in the group’s new season&emdash;dedicated to a world-famous Sacramento-area artist. The composer is:
-Igor Stravinsky
-Elton John
-Andrew Lloyd Weber
-Andr Previn

34. And the artist is:
-Pablo Picasso
-Joan Brown
-Wayne Thiebaud
-Jackson Pollock

35. One of these men is a former Sacramento King who’s rumored to be contemplating a run for the presidency of his country. He is:
-Mike Bibby
-Vlade Divac
-Bill Lockyer

36. Which one of these current or former Sacramento Kings is not in the restaurant business?
-Vlade Divac
-Chris Webber
-Mike Bibby

37. The first Sacramento television newsmagazine&emdash;possibly the first in the entire country, in fact&emdash;aired here on KCRA Channel 3. It was called:
-3 For the Road
-Today at 3
-Weeknight
-Bette Vasquez Presents

38. Which one of these faux captains was not a local TV fixture?
-Captain Sacto
-Captain Carrot
-Captain Capitol

39. While Sacramento has a restaurant called Fat City, this also was the name of a famous novel, then film (starring Stacy Keach, if you must know still more trivia), set in this nearby town:
-Davis
-Stockton
-Vacaville

40. Reno residents complain about their summer heat even more than Sacramentans do. In fact, one of their favorite expressions is that their town is this:
-The Ninth Circle of Hades if it had a whole-house fan
-So close to Hell you can see Sparks
-Hotter than a pepper sprout

41. This sculpture by Gerald Walburg caused considerable (though short-lived) controversy when it was first unveiled in downtown Sacramento. It’s called:
-Pegasus on Steroids
-The Fall of Montezuma
-The Indo Arch
-The Fallen Arch

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42. This retail giant recently lost a bid to build a store on the K Street Mall:
-K-Mart
-Wal-Mart
-Target
-Costco

43. One of these women is a local TV newsperson who’s married to an almost-as-well-known orchestra conductor:
-Jennifer Whitney
-Jennifer Smith
-Jennifer Montavani
-Lois Hart

44. One of these people is a local elected official whose family is in the car business:
-Councilman Martin Ford
-Supervisor Roger Niello
-Assemblywoman Mercedes McCambridge

45. Which one of these local restaurateurs is the niece of builder/philanthropist Angelo Tsakopoulos?
-Cathy LaGesse
-Terry Gilliland
-Biba Caggiano

*Send your answers, along with your name, address and phone number, to Trivia Contest, Sacramento magazine, 706 56th St., Suite 210, Sacramento CA 95819 by June 22, 2006. Contestants with all correct answers (or the highest number of correct answers) will be entered into a drawing for a $100 restaurant certificate. The answers will be printed in the July 2006 issue.

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Season’s Bounty
By Jocelyn Isidro

It’s summertime, and the living in Sacramento is about as easy as it gets. The heady smells of peaches and plums perfume the air, berries hang plump on the vine, and tomatoes in multiple hues grace tables from June to September. The sizzling temperatures encourage people to expose bare skin, knock back tall, cool ones and revel in the glorious bounty of local fruits and vegetables.

Whether you’re a native Sacramentan or just a lucky transplant from less sunny climes, you know a good thing when you get it. So let these sultry summer days incite you to bask in the enviable Northern California lifestyle.

Read on for tips and ideas from local foodies on how to toss together an ideal summer meal, pick the ripest summer fruit and concoct refreshing hot-weather drinks. And then peruse our lists of picnic places, farm stands and pick-your-own fruit fields, and a few exotic new ingredients. Enjoy it while you can, because the long, hot days of summer will be gone before you know it.

* Just Right Summer Meals
We asked local food experts to come up with perfect summer meals, using the best of local ingredients.

David Berkley, owner of the chic David Berkley Fine Wine & Specialty Foods in the Pavilions, brings a delightful passion to Sacramento cuisine. A California native raised in Pasadena and Live Oak, he’s grateful for his rural, agricultural upbringing.

Part of our [summer] memories that we cherish are aromas and flavors&emdash;biting into a peach that a grower had given us and having the juice run down your hands and chin. You carry it with you for the rest of your life. I was lucky to have the chance to pick up fresh, broken walnuts from the ground, he says.

Berkley has a small army of local growers who hand-deliver their lovingly tended fruits and vegetables to his store. He loves the variety and abundance of local offerings. He suggests an heirloom tomato salad as light summer fare.

A beautiful composed salad of heirloom tomatoes: green, yellow, red&emdash;an absolute rainbow of colors on the plate. It has color, shape, a whole dimension, he says. Sprinkle on some fresh basil, continues Berkley. Drizzle olive oil over the salad. (Berkley recommends Sacramento olive oil producer Bariani). Add fresh mozzarella, sea salt and a little balsamic vinegar.

For a cool summer appetizer, Berkley likes Sterling caviar, from Stolt Sea Farms right here in Sacramento. Try it on toast points with crème fraîche on a bed of local butter leaf lettuce.

A simple, beautiful dessert can be made with a freestone peach, says Berkley. You can take a freestone, cut it in half, drizzle it with a small amount of marsala, and bake it. Then crumble a little amoretti (crushed amoretto-flavored cookies) over it. You bring in a little almond crunch to the lusciousness of the peach, and the liquor. Make sure your Vincento (dessert wine) is ready, he says with a smile.

-Paulette Bruce-Miller, one of Sacramento magazine’s Dining Divas, is an accomplished chef and cooking instructor in addition to being a public relations expert. She learned how to cook in her Italian grandmother’s kitchen, while helping her study for the U.S. citizenship exam. Now Bruce-Miller teaches cooking classes of her own in her Land Park home.

My favorite summer recipe is a simple pasta that I learned from the Sobon family in Amador, she says. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut in half and scoop out the seeds from fresh Roma tomatoes and line them cut side up in a large roasting pan. Top the tomatoes with cloves of unpeeled garlic (as much as you want), a scoop of pesto inside about half of the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of fruity olive oil. Pan-roast until the tomatoes are roasted and turning slightly brown on the edges.

Boil a pot of water and cook your favorite pasta; tubular shape is the best. Drain the pasta and add to a large bowl. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and pour tomatoes over the hot pasta. Toss, season with salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes (optional). Top off with freshly grated Parmesan.

-The general manager of Sacramento’s Corti Brothers grocers and right-hand man to renowned food expert Darrell Corti is Rick Mindermann, who has been with Corti for 28 years.

I have received and continue to receive an education that’s not available elsewhere. He’s a walking genius, Mindermann says of Darrell Corti.

A modest man, Mindermann is nonetheless a food authority and connoisseur in his own right, with an infectious delight in new foods and flavors. He suggests taking advantage of cooler mornings in summer by preparing brunches with salads, fruits and breads.

A good, satisfying breakfast with good food can usually see you through the day, says Mindermann. Here’s one of his favorite recipes:

Take a fresh croissant or sweet roll. Get some nice stone fruit &emdash;sweet&emdash;slice it thin. Cut the croissant in half. Get something like mascarpone cheese&emdash;whip it if you wish&emdash;or natural cream cheese (not the processed plastic kind from the supermarket), then put thin strips of fruit and layers of cheese on the roll or croissant. That with coffee makes the perfect morning meal.

* How To Pick the Best Fruits and Vegetables
Jerry Love has been the produce manager at Corti Brothers for more than 20 years. Here are his tips for buying ripe fruit.

Melons&emdash;For cantaloupes, push on the opposite end of the stem end, Love says. It should give a little. Also, the smell should smell like cantaloupe. They have a tackiness when they’re ripe. When they are smooth they’re not ripe. Leave them out of the refrigerator to ripen.

Crenshaws, casabas, Juan Canary and Persian melons are all like cantaloupes, adds Love. All will give on the opposite of the stem end when ripe.

Watermelon is a tough one, he says. You have to go by the sound of it. Hold it so it’s kind of away from your body&emdash;tap it so you can hear an echoing sound. He holds an imaginary watermelon in front of him and thumps the air. If you hear that, then it’s ripe.

Stone Fruits&emdash;Peaches and nectarines you don’t want to refrigerate until they’re ripe. Otherwise, they’ll get brown at the pit. Refrigerate once they give a little, says Love. Store peaches, pears and nectarines at room temperature (not above 80 degrees) and out of direct sunlight until they are ripe.

Apricots are picked with a little green tinge. Wait until they are golden in color to eat. The sweetness depends on how long the fruit was left on the tree. If you buy from a local grocer who leaves fruit on the tree&emdash;not a mass fruit producer&emdash;you’ll be better off, he advises.

Berries&emdash;Get Driscoll brand, he suggests simply. They’re really consistent all year round&emdash;strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries.

Paulette Bruce-Miller frequents local farmers markets to buy her veggies.

I buy my local produce at the farmers markets around town. My favorite is the Sunday morning market under the W/X freeway. I get energized for the week just walking through the place, she says.

I walk around the market and smell and taste whatever looks good to me, then I buy the freshest-tasting produce, she says. Fresh-tasting produce is not always the prettiest, so smell and taste are important.

In a grocery store, you must rely on how smart the produce people are. You can tell if they keep rotating the old produce out and bring in the fresh. If I don’t like how something looks, I always ask for more selections, providing they have the backup. I hate all the prepackaged herbs that are now on the shelves. You can’t smell for freshness. Corti Brothers still sells bulk herbs, she says.

I also look for produce without bruises and brown spots. I have my favorite places for my weekly purchases at the Sunday market. It’s fun to get to know the growers. You always get a little extra.

* Best Places for a Picnic
David Berkley recommends finding a spot by the river for a picnic. There are lots of nice private spots off the Garden Highway, he says. Or try a vineyard. If you go south of here you can sit in the middle of a vineyard.

Paulette Bruce-Miller’s favorite picnic place in Sacramento is any place on the bank of the river or a quiet corner of Land Park.

If you don’t mind a bit of a hike, try Rick Mindermann’s secret picnic spot along the American River. My favorite place for a picnic is quaint and cozy William B. Pond Park, he says. You have to walk a way in, but it has some nice little hidden areas. He has seen deer, badgers and other wildlife there.

If you want to enjoy your repast while relaxing among the vines, here are a few ideas.

Bogle Vineyards&emdash;Within 10 miles of Sacramento, this winery includes a second-story tasting room with decks overlooking the vineyards, and a pleasant, grassy picnic area between the vines. Open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 37783 County Road 144, Clarksburg. (916-744-1139; boglewinery.com)

Michael-David Vineyards&emdash;Home of the popular 7 Deadly Zins, the winery has a tasting room, a fruit stand and deli, a cafe, a petting zoo and lovely gardens for picnicking. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 4580 W. Highway 12, Lodi. (888-707-WINE; lodivineyards.com)

Sobon Estate&emdash;One of the oldest wineries in California, Sobon was founded in 1856. It includes a spacious tasting room and landscaped picnic areas, and is the site of the Shenandoah Valley Museum. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 14430 Shenandoah Road, Plymouth. (209-245-5554; sobonwine.com)

* Summer Drinks&emdash;If you’ve seen the movie Sideways, you’ll understand about wine geeks. Kathe McDonald, a longtime tasting room staffer at Michael-David Vineyards in Lodi and a certified Australasian wine master, is such a wine aficionada. Here are her suggestions for supreme wine-based summer drinks, in her own words.

I dearly love Champagne, and the pink stuff (Ros) is probably my favorite guilty pleasure. You don’t have to break the bank to find a nice one. Laurent Perrier Ros Champagne NV (nonvintage) runs about $50; Billecart Salmon ($65), Nicolas Feuillete ($35), Fleury ($35). While true Champagne is fabulous, do not be reluctant to try sparkling wines from other regions. While it cannot be called Champagne when produced outside of Champagne, France, look for Prosecco from Italy or cava from Spain.

A classic Bellini is Champagne with white peach juice. Created in 1948 at the now-famous Harry’s Bar & Grill in Venice, the owner combined Italian Prosecco with fresh white peaches. While white peaches aren’t the easiest thing to find, you can improvise. First of all, don’t use true Champagne. (You didn’t pay that much money for your Krug to blend it with peach juice, for heaven’s sake!) Use something inexpensive, maybe Asti, an Italian Prosecco, a Spanish cava or even a California sparkling wine. If you can’t find white peaches, there is a product called Perfect Pure that works great. Alternatively, local stores carry peach nectar.

A mimosa is a great way to start your weekend morning. Again, use an inexpensive bubbly, and I like to make them about 50/50 with good-quality (not from concentrate) orange juice. Alternate the blend to your own taste. Mango pure is another option. I love pomegranate juice blended with sparkling wine.

There’s no better pick for wine lovers dealing with Sacramento summers than a nice dry Ros. Ross come from red grapes, and some of my favorites are Spanish Rosado selections. Made to be drunk young, these wines see little or no oak. Grenache or Sangiovese are good choices. I like to serve these slightly chilled. A local producer in Plymouth, Vino Noceto, makes a lovely Ros, Rosato di Sangiovese, which can be found at Taylor’s [Market] or Corti Brothers locally.

* Farms and Farm Stands
Drive out in any direction from Sacramento in the summer and, once you’re in the country, you’re bound to find a farm stand. Here are a few of the better-known ones.

Davis Ranch&emdash;Famous for its sweet corn, Davis Ranch sells plenty of other produce, too. Open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 13211 Jackson Road, Sloughhouse. (916-682-2658; sloughhousesweetcorn.com)

Ann’s Orchard&emdash;Certified organic lavender, herbs, satsuma mandarins, heirloom tomatoes and more can be found here. Call for hours, 4595 Godley Road, Lincoln. (916-645-1496; annsorchard.com)

Ikedas Davis&emdash;Ikedas boasts a selection of produce, nuts and dried fruits. Open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 26295 Mace Blvd., Davis. (530-750-3379; ikedas.com)

Ikedas Auburn&emdash;Open daily 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. with extended summer hours, 13500 Lincoln Way, Auburn. (530-885-4243; ikedas.com)

Hooverville Orchards&emdash;Hooverville Orchards offers peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, pears, cherries, citrus, asparagus, pumpkins, avocados, berries, pluots and Asian pears. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1100 Wallace Road, Placerville. (530-622-2155)

Boa Vista Orchards&emdash;This Apple Hill family farm offers a wide variety of produce, baked goods and wine tasting. Open daily, 2952 Carson Road, Placerville. (530-622-5522; boavista.com)

* Pick Your Own
There’s nothing better than fruit you pick yourself that’s still warm from the sun. Here are some local u-pick farms. Remember to wear sneakers with traction soles, sunscreen and a sun hat, and don’t wear perfume and other scented products if you don’t want to attract bees. To make sure your hand-picked treasures stay fresh on the drive home, bring an ice chest.

Veerkamp’s Pick’N’Carry Berries&emdash;Boysenberries and blackberries. Also sells jam and jelly. Open approximately June 1 through the second week of July, 9840 Farris Lane, Elk Grove. (916-806-4191)

American River Cherry Company&emdash;Ollalieberries, boysenberries, marionberries, raspberries and five kinds of cherries. Also sells mountain honey. Open May 1 to July 15, Sunday through Friday, 2240 Dias Drive, Placerville. (530-626-3881)

Amber Oaks Berry Farm&emdash;Grows more than 100 different items. Open June to November, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Call for an appointment, 2770 Shanley Road, Auburn. (530-885-3420)

-Berries Galore&emdash;In Apple Hill, a short jog off Highway 50, Summerfield Berry Farm invites visitors to pack a bucket downhill into its rows of crops and pick to their hearts’ content. Come in mid-June for loganberries, tayberries and upstart blackberries, a few weeks later for summer red raspberries and black raspberries, and in July and August for boysenberries and those ultra-sweet marionberries. (Hard to resist eating those straight off the bush.) In July and August, the thornless blackberries ripen up. Bring the kids and pick enough berries to freeze for year-round treats. After you’ve lugged your take up the hill to weigh and pay for your berries, retire to Summerfield’s shaded grassy meadow to picnic and admire the awesome view of the Sierra Nevada. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through August. (530-647-2833; summerfieldberryfarm.com)&emdash;Krista Minard

-Exotic New Ingredients&emdash;At the time of this interview, internationally known food expert Darrell Corti, of Corti Brothers grocers, was in Chile, investigating two new fruits that grow wild in the Andes but have never been exported.

The first is the subtropical carica, which comes packed in jars in a light syrup, looks similar to a long and narrow yellow pepper, and tastes heavenly.

The fruit has the potential to become as popular as the kiwi, says Corti General Manager Rick Mindermann. It has wisps of peaches, apricot, a mild perfume. You can stuff it, grill it, throw it on chicken breast&emdash;it’s a very, very interesting, fun fruit.

The other fruit Corti was investigating is a succulent Chilean pear called simply pera salvaje or wild pear in Spanish.

Darrell has yet to find the botanical name, which I’m sure he will, says Mindermann. This pear is unusual because it doesn’t grow from the tree. It grows from the runners. It is common to see it growing in people’s yards. It is not commercially cultivated. The locals sell to the producer, and the producer makes limited canning runs, which they don’t even list on their product line information, so this will certainly be a rarity.

Corti Brothers plans to have both the Chilean carica and wild pear on the shelves this summer.

* Patio Italian&emdash;Upstairs in the Gaslight Building in Historic Folsom, My Brother Vinny’s Italian Family Ristorante invites diners to enjoy its deck overlooking Sutter Street. Drop in at sunset and watch the colors in the sky change as you devour linguine with clam sauce or veal parmigiana or any of a number of Italian specialties. Meat lovers should try the ground beef-and-spinach-stuffed shells with Sunday gravy, which is a red sauce packed with veal and pork that has simmered all day. The housemade garlic-rosemary bread alone gives reason to try My Brother Vinny’s. Chewy and moist, it’s perfect dipped in balsamic and oil. Pair it with a Caesar salad and you’ve got dinner. Keep your eyes peeled for herbs growing on the deck; that rosemary goes into the bread. (916-353-0273; mybrothervinnys.com) &emdash;Krista Minard

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Keepin’ Cool
By Elena M. Macaluso

We valley dwellers are lucky; when the temperatures soar, we can escape to the water. With two rivers, Folsom Lake, Lake Natoma and myriad swimming facilities in the area, there’s some water-related fun for all.

* Take a Dip in a Cool Pool
Don’t have one in your backyard? Not to worry. A plethora of public pools are in the area. A few worth dipping into:

-Pannell Meadowview Community Center Recreational Pool&emdash;Don’t miss the interactive play structures. (2450 Meadowview Road, Sacramento; 916-808-6622)

For more information on water-related fun, check out City of Sacramento Parks and Recreation Summer 2006 Aquatics Brochure, available online at cityofsacramento.org/parksandrecreation. Or, you can obtain the Summer 2006 Recreation & Community Programs directory by calling (916) 808-6060 or going to cityofsacramento.org/parksandrecreation.

-Roseville Aquatics Complex&emdash;The complex is home to the Summer Sanders Olympic Pool. Check out the Aquatics Activity Guide for information on swim lessons, family nights and special events including the July 29 Little Splashers Beach Party, a water bash for children 6 and younger. (3051 Woodcreek Oaks Blvd., Roseville; 916-774-5250) The Aquatics Activity Guide is available at roseville.ca.us/parks, or you can pick it up at any Roseville Parks and Recreation office. For office locations, call (916) 774-5990.

-Folsom Aquatic Center&emdash;Housing three pools, this facility is the place to be for serious swimmers, beginners desiring lessons and those who just want to have fun in the water. Or attend the Dive-in Movies, where you can float on inner tubes while watching family-friendly flicks. (1200 Riley St., Folsom; 916-355-8318; folsom.ca.us)

Folsom residents receive copies of The City of Folsom Parks & Recreation Summer 2006 Activity Guide, the must-have guide for water-related fun in Folsom; nonresidents can obtain a copy at the Aquatic Center, Folsom Community Center, Folsom Sports Complex or City Hall, or by calling (916) 355-7285.

* Lounge at the Lake
Folsom Lake State Recreational Area is the go-to spot for everything from beach wading to water skiing. One event to check out is the Folsom Lake Water Festival & Boat Show taking place June 2–4. Participants can test-drive ski and wakeboard boats, fishing boats, Jet Skis and more. (800-818-9994; sacramentoboatshow.com)

You can get to Folsom Lake recreation area via Interstate 80 or Highway 50. (916-988-0205; parks.ca.gov)

* Explore the Sacramento State Aquatic Center
Formerly known as the CSUS Aquatic Center, the Sacramento State Aquatic Center is a gigantic water-related playground. You can rent kayaks, canoes, hydro bikes and other water-friendly toys by the hour. Want to learn a new water sport? The center offers classes in kayaking, water skiing, sailing and more. Bring the family for a picnic and some beach frolicking. Or participate in one of the center’s special events, such as the Sunset Paddle, which takes participants out on the lake under a full moon. The Aquatic Center is located at Lake Natoma, 1901 Hazel Ave., Gold River. (916-278-2842; sacstateaquaticcenter.com)

* All Aboard
Cruise along in Sacramento’s open-air water taxi, the River Otter Water Taxi, which boards at Old Sacramento and cruises up to the Riverbank Marina, the Virgin Sturgeon Marina and, upon request, the River View Marina or other stops. At times the taxi rides at a pretty fast clip&emdash;but don’t worry, we haven’t heard of anyone going overboard yet. (916-446-7704; riverotter.com. For charter information, call 916-552-6808, ext. 226.)

* Slip ‘n’ Slide at an Area Water Park
Water parks are great fun for the kids&emdash;including the kid in all of us. The Sacramento area is lucky to be home to two: Six Flags Waterworld and Golfland SunSplash. Both parks offer wild water slides and cool pools, perfect for a day of thrillin’ and chillin’. SunSplash has a new attraction this year: Six Chuter&emdash;six racing lanes more than 400 feet long with a more than 45-foot drop and a scoreboard over the finish to track who comes in first. Six Flags is at 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento. (916-924-3747; sixflags.com) Golfland SunSplash is at 1893 Taylor Road, Roseville. (916-784-1273; golfland.com)

* Raft Down the American River
Don’t be fooled by the gentle tide&emdash;rafting down the river can be a raucous ride depending on the crowd you’re cruising beside. On busy days (think weekends), good-natured&emdash;well, usually&emdash;water wars have been known to break out. (We suggest skipping July 4 entirely!) This trip isn’t for Aunt Betty who’s afraid to get her hair wet. But it sure is a lot of fun for the rest of us. You can rent rafts at American River Raft Rentals (11257 S. Bridge St., Rancho Cordova, 916-635-6400; raftrentals.com) and River Rat Raft and Bike (4053 Pennsylvania Ave., Fair Oaks, 916-966-6777; river-rat.com).

* Go Fish&emdash;For Free
Fish for free during the Department of Fish & Game’s Free Fish Day June 10. All day, would-be anglers can fish without a license. For more information about the event&emdash;as well as information on clinics and the Fishing in the City program&emdash;call (916) 358-2900 or visit dfg.ca.gov.

*Participate in a Triathlon (and enjoy the area’s rivers in the process). Check out these three triathlons:

Eppie’s Great Race&emdash;Do the paddle portion. Eppie’s Great Race takes place along the American River Parkway July 15 and features a 5.82-mile run, a 12.5-mile bike ride and a 6.35-mile paddle. (thegreatrace.org)

A week later, on July 23, switch rivers and try this tri along the Sacramento River: West Sacramento International Triathlon, which comprises a 3/4-mile swim, a 16-mile bike ride and a 4-mile run. (916-607-8651; updogsports.com)

Enter the Luna Bar Women’s Triathlon Aug. 27 at Rancho Seco, a 1/2-mile swim, 16-mile bike ride and 3-mile run. (916-202-3006; tbfracing.com)

For a list of other area triathlons, go to tbfracing.com.

* Play Safely
Here are some water-safety tips for children courtesy of the Drowning Prevention Foundation:

Keep an eye on young children playing in or near any body of water, wading pool, public pool, bathtub or lake. At large gatherings, designate an adult to watch children at play.

Keep reaching and throwing aids, such as poles and life preservers, on both sides of the pool.

All nonswimmers should wear approved personal flotation devices when they are near water.

Swimming lessons do not ensure safety. About 25 percent of young drowning victims have taken swimming lessons. A child who falls into water unexpectedly may panic and forget his swimming skills.

For more tips, go to dds.ca.gov/drowning.

-Good to Know&emdash;You can borrow a life jacket at area fire stations. Life jackets are available, free of charge, in adult, youth and child sizes. In addition, on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, fire department personnel will be out at popular water sites handing out jackets. We’re happy people use the program, says Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Niko King. While you won’t be fined for not returning the jackets, it’s common courtesy to do so. You could be saving someone else’s life.

P.S. Don’t forget your pooch! While Rover can’t take advantage of a free life vest via the fire department (they’re available for humans only), you can purchase one at some area pet stores.
____________________________________________________________________

Fairs, Festivals and Fourth of July
By Jocelyn Isidro

Burn, burn, burn like fabulous Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’

Beat generation poet Jack Kerouac was describing people who fascinated him, but you can find an Independence Day celebration, or other summer festival, to give you that same awestruck feeling. • From the rural charms of county fairs, to the cultural immersion of ethnic fiestas, to rousing Fourth of July events, this summer’s fair and festival season promises to have something for everyone.

*A Fair to Remember
The glitz and glamour of Hollywood is coming to the California State Fair this summer, in the form of superstars and superheroes, as well as with American Idol.

If you missed your shot at stardom at the last American Idol auditions, bring your vocal chords down to the State Fair. A series of American Idol-style singing competitions is planned, in conjunction with the popular FOX series and the local FOX affiliate. The grand prizewinner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the American Idol audition of his or her choice next season.

Grab your autograph book, as the red carpet will be rolled out&emdash;literally&emdash;for the fair’s opening ceremonies, where top singers and other stars will be highlighted. A nightly Pop Stars on the Water concert will showcase entertainers performing on a special stage at the edge of the State Fair’s lagoon.

You’ll want to get into your best hero-worshipping mode for the X-Men, Spiderman, Superman and a galaxy of other comic book stars who will appear in person or in costume at this year’s fair. With memorabilia from Universal Studios such as the original Batmobile, historic comic books collections and appearances by some of the actors who played superheroes on TV and in the movies, this year’s fair promises to scale new heights.

Check out these events and all the usual fair goings-on from Aug. 11 to Sept. 4 (closed Mondays except Labor Day) at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento. (916-263-FAIR; bigfun.org)

If you can’t get your fill of deep-fried Twinkies and hog judging at the State Fair, check out these more intimate county fairs.

El Dorado County Fair&emdash;June 15 to 18. El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville. (530-621-5860; eldoradocountyfair.org)

Placer County Fair&emdash;June 22 to 25. Placer County Fairgrounds, 800 All America City Blvd., Roseville. (916-786-2023; placercountyfair.org)

Yolo County Fair&emdash;Aug. 16 to 20. Yolo County Fairgrounds, 1125 East St., Woodland. (530-662-5393; yolocountyfair.com)

The Lodi Grape Festival and Harvest Fair is not, repeat, not the San Joaquin County Fair, although most people can’t tell the difference. Held Sept. 14 to 17, this event is a county fair in every aspect except the title. The festival has the usual carnival rides and food concessions, plus fun grape stomping; but its claim to fame is grape murals&emdash;dozens of artworks made completely out of grapes. 413 E. Lockeford St., Lodi. (209-369-2771; grapefestival.com)

* Cultural Festivals
Enjoy the beginning of summer in Old World style at the 24th annual Croatian Extravaganza June 10 and 11. The festival celebrates the lively, festive traditions of the Croatian people, and features Croatian food and pastries, a wine and beer bar, a kids’ play area with a three-story slide, and ethnic music and dance. Gates open at noon both days; admission is $7 for adults and free for kids younger than 12. Croatian American Cultural Center, 3730 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento. (916-971-0663; cacc.com)

Rejoice in African-American culture and heritage at Sacramento’s fifth annual Juneteenth Festival from June 16 to 17 at Granite Regional Park. Plans include a gospel concert; three stages of live entertainment; children’s area; educational theater; talent showcase; art exhibits; essay, history and poster contests; and vendors. 3321 Ramona St., off Power Inn Road at Highway 50 just south of Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento. (916-808-8983)

Celebrate the good life Italian-style in the 20th year of the Sacramento Festa Italiana Aug. 5 and 6. Enjoy great Italian food and entertainment, games, a petting zoo, entertainers from Italy and the United States, exhibition and social dancing, a wine pavilion, and lots of cannoli. Admission is $8 for adults, free for children. Croatian American Cultural Center, 3730 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento. (916-482-5900;italiancenter.net)

Held at one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the United States, the 60th annual Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar features tasty Japanese food and drink, Japanese exhibits, flower arranging (ikebana), classical dancing (odori), a tea ceremony, concerts, Taiko drum shows and many other cultural activities, Aug. 12 and 13, noon until 9 p.m. Buddhist Church of Sacramento, 2401 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento. (916-446-0121; buddhistchurch.com)

* Still More Festivals

The Western States Horse Expo will be held in Sacramento from June 9 to 11 at Cal Expo. Saddle up and get on down to one of the biggest horse shows in the country, and maybe the world. Lots of speakers will keep you entertained, along with rodeo events and competitions, horse sales, breed exhibitions, kids’ events, vendors and more. (800-352-2411; horsexpo.com)

Ferry yourself down to Old Sacramento for the Bridge to Bridge Waterfront Festival July 22 and 23. Billed as the most fun you can have on our river without a boat, the festival offers boat and personal watercraft races, antique boats, high-performance boat rallies, rescue demonstrations, U.S. Coast Guard safety information and more. (916-808-7777; discovergold.org/bridge2bridge)

The 18th annual Strauss Festival of Elk Grove, July 27 to 30, is dedicated to the music of the Waltz King, Johann Strauss. Always a high-quality production with stylish costumes, accomplished dancers and professional musicians, the festival is visually stunning. Dancers perform on a small island in a lake in Elk Grove Park. Free admission; parking is $10. Elk Grove Regional Park, Elk Grove. (916-714-2527; straussfestival.com)

A festival to celebrate an earthquake? Why not? The Earthquake Street Festival, Aug. 18 from about 5 to 11 p.m., celebrates the powerful 6.5- magnitude quake that shook up Winters in 1892. Enjoy quaint, small-town ambiance during Winters’ unique street party that combines a harvest festival, farmers market and old-fashioned street dancing. (530-795-2329)

If you’re looking for culture that’s a bit more urban than horse barns and quilt making, check out The Sacramento Film & Music Festival, Aug. 2 to 6 in downtown Sacramento. It’s billed as the region’s largest general film fest; you can see feature films, documentaries, short features and animation produced by both local and international filmmakers. It also includes live music and music videos. Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento. (916-44-CREST; sacfilm.com)

During Old Sacramento’s Gold Rush Days, you can experience the drama and excitement of the Old West, as the historical district is transformed back to the 1850s. On Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1 to 4, streets are laid with dirt, horse-drawn carriages provide transportation, and gunslingers and gold-panners saunter through town. The event includes an Ethnic Village showing the impact of different cultures that were present during the Gold Rush, period dancers and musicians, saloons, pony rides and much more. Free admission. (916-808-7777; discovergold.org)

* Fourth of July Celebrations

Cal Expo’s Independence Day Celebration&emdash;More than 15,000 people will show up to celebrate America’s birthday at this spectacular annual fireworks show. 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento. (916-263-3000; calexpo.org)

Raley Field&emdash;Instead of having a family barbecue in your backyard, have one at Raley Field, where they’ll have lots of tangy barbecue in addition to musical entertainment and fireworks during the annual Fourth of July show. The Sacramento Choral Society and Hip Service will perform, with music playing as the fireworks explode overhead. 400 Ballpark Drive, West Sacramento. (916-376-4676; raleyfield.com)

Rancho Cordova’s It’s a Grand Old Flag Celebration&emdash;It’s going to be the biggest Fourth of July event ever attempted here, says Rancho Cordova City Councilmember David Sander. Really, it may be the largest Fourth of July event in the region. It will certainly be the best. National musical groups and patriotic fun are planned for this 22nd annual celebration. Hagan Community Park, 2197 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova. (916-408-1704; ranchocordovajuly4th.com)

Placerville Fourth of July Family Blast&emdash;Highlights of this celebration include all-American entertainment such as a watermelon eating contest, gunnysack races, water balloon tossing, stage shows and fireworks. Car races, too, at the Placerville Speedway (separate admission). El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville. (530-621-5860; eldoradocountyfair.org)

Auburn July Fourth Parade & Celebration&emdash;Watch a traditional July Fourth parade through downtown Auburn starting at 3 p.m. Fireworks will start at 9:45 p.m. or thereabouts at the Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High St., Auburn. (530-885-5616)

-If I Had a Boat&emdash;Celebrate this Fourth of July aboard your boat. Launch at Discovery Park early in the day, cruise up the serene American River and throw down the anchor in the shade. The speed limit is 5 mph, which creates a peaceful ambiance for reading, swimming, picnicking or napping. At about 7 p.m., weigh anchor, cruise to Old Sacramento and stake claim to a prime fireworks-viewing spot. At dark (around 9 p.m.), fireworks light up the sky above Raley Field. Be prepared with boat bumpers; competition becomes stiff for space on the river, and not all boaters can skillfully navigate among the numerous vessels in the Sacramento’s high current. If your boat allows, plan to spend the night out there: You’ll feel smug as you motor past boaters jamming the launch ramp at Discovery Park after the fireworks. Back up the American you’ll go, to anchor and enjoy a quiet night on the water. Wake up early and watch the fish jumping and the deer nibbling shrubbery on shore. &emdash;Krista Minard

* Food and Wine Festivals
There’s something bacchanalian about a food festival. It must be the surrendering to the joys of ripe, juicy fruit, steaming red crustaceans or the fermented juice of red and white grapes. And yet what would summer be without a little judicious overindulgence? Use our compilation of local food and wine fairs as a guide.

One weekend isn’t enough for the 23rd annual Fair Play Wine Festival, held during the first two weekends of June in the beautiful countryside of southern El Dorado County. Featuring wines and wineries of the Fair Play appellation, this festival showcases wines with an altitude. Go see for yourself if mountain-grown grapes are really better. Festival goers will be treated to gourmet food, barrel tastings, live entertainment, wine discounts, a souvenir Riedel crystal wine glass, and chances to meet winery owners and winemakers. June 3 and 4 and June 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. all four days. See website for ticket prices. (fairplaywine.com)

At the Isleton Crawdad Festival 2006, boiled, battered and barbecued crawdads will be the talk of the Delta over Father’s Day weekend. More than 50,000 people will descend on Isleton to enjoy barrels of crawdads, corn on the cob, and tall, cool ones, while browsing among more crawdad kitsch than seems possible. Friday, June 16 to Sunday, June 18. Tickets $5, free for children 12 and younger. (916-777-7770; crawdadfestival.org)

Sacramento’s fourth annual Capital Regional Wine & Food Celebration, Grape Escape, is held in lovely, shady Crocker Park in downtown Sacramento. The event features a sampling of regional food and wine from more than 100 wineries and restaurants, as well food pairings and celebrity chef cooking demonstrations. Saturday, June 10 from 2 to 7 p.m., 216 O St., Sacramento. Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door. (discovergold.org/grapeescape)

The wine competition for the California State Fair is always held before the fair actually starts, and this is your chance to taste all the medal winners up front at California’s Grape & Gourmet. More than 600 of California’s best wines will be available for savoring in one of the largest wine events of the year. More than 90 restaurants and 200 wineries participate in this annual extravaganza, where every single wine presented is a medal winner. It’s for a good cause, too, as proceeds from tickets sold will benefit the Friends of the California State Fair Scholarship Program. Held at Cal Expo on July 13. Call for ticket prices. (916-263-FAIR; calexpo.com)

Experience one of the signature tastes of summer at the California Peach Festival in downtown Marysville. Lots of juicy, fresh peaches, peach desserts and peach cocktails will be served, along with a 5K fun run, live entertainment, and a peaches and pancakes breakfast. The festival emphasizes kids’ activities, too, with a huge play area. Saturday, July 15 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Free admission. (530-671-9600; capeachfestival.com)

Picture yourself in a still life with a pear, or maybe a couple of dozen pears, at the 34th annual Delta Pear Fair. Try pear pie, pear smoothies and pear beer while enjoying the town of Courtland’s cool Delta breezes. Attractions this year include a classic car show, a fun run and a pear cook-off. July 30 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free admission, but a $10 parking fee. (916-775-2000; pearfair.com)

Classic culture, traditional music and dance, and food suitable for Olympian gods are all wrapped up in a Labor Day weekend party that seems to get bigger every year. Celebrate Hellenic culture at the annual Greek Food Festival. The festival features tons of baklava and other foods, cultural displays, films on Greece and more. Friday, Sept. 1 to Sunday, Sept. 3, Sacramento Convention Center, 13th and J streets. Admission is $5 general, $4 for seniors and free for children 12 and younger. (916-443-2033)

-Some Fair Dancers&emdash;On a bright, windy morning this past March, auditions for the California State Fair’s professional hip-hop dance troupe, the Step Up Dance Team, were held in Cal Expo’s Building 2.

About 50 teenagers in baggy sweatshirts, camouflage pants and Converse high-tops stretched their muscles and cut jazzy moves across an expanse of shiny linoleum, often with more nervous bravado than grace, as they waited for the tryouts to begin.

Spots on the team are coveted&emdash;the dancers perform in the community at schools, shopping centers and neighborhood centers for months before the fair starts, and then every day in front of large crowds during the fair itself.

Erica Manuel, one of the judges and assistant general manager of Cal Expo, began the auditions with serious advice. Step Up is a program for teenagers to get involved in the community, she said. You become famous for a few weeks. If you do make it, the program itself is about positive behavior. We’re looking for talent, creativity, personality.

To be a member of the Step Up Dance Team, dancers must demonstrate good character as well as excellent dance skills. They are considered peer ambassadors and role models for Sacramento’s youth.

Angelica Torres, Stormi Bradford and Tonya Hill, three endearing 17-year-old students from San Juan High School, were among the hopefuls. Each made the team last year. But this year is different, more intense. They could no longer bring their own routines and instead had to learn the steps demonstrated for them, as proof of their ability to learn quickly.
Nevertheless, when asked if they were worried about making the crew this year, each girl unequivocally shook her head no. Each is a performing-arts student and a cheerleader, and together they teach a sixth-period dance class at their school. They love performing.

It’s exciting. I like to pump up the crowd; when they come to see you, it makes you want to dance more, said Hill.

It shows kids there are better things than drugs and alcohol, said Torres.

Finally, the audition began. Experienced hip-hop dancer and judge Ashlee Cook led the dancers in a complicated routine, expecting them to know dance moves from ballet plis to hip-hop pops.

We not just looking for a dancer&emdash;we’re looking for a performer, she told them. Most of all, have fun.

The dancers began sweating as they moved through the energetic dance full of turns, hand movements and jumps. Some groans were heard as a series of spins took its toll.

More than a few dancers cast worried glances toward the judges as they tried in vain to keep up with the routine. But an equal number were obvious professionals with years of dance experience despite their youth.

The dancers wouldn’t find out for at least 10 days whether they would be performing at the fair, as more auditions would be held. But judge Erica Manuel conceded that the three San Juan High teenagers had a good chance.

They’re strong contenders, she said afterward. Strong dancers, very tight. &emdash;Jocelyn Isidro

Editor’s note: Torres, Bradford and Hill all made the team.

____________________________________________________________________

The Sounds of Summertime Music
By Cathy Cassinos-Carr

Think summer music and where does your mind roam? For me, it’s back to Santa Cruz beach, 1966, the transistor radio propped up in the sand, the same great songs playing again and again&emdash;Bobby Hebb’s Sunny, The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer in the City, Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman. Outdoor music festivals also loom large as a summer memory, including Peter Frampton at Day on the Green in July of 1977. It was a great show until someone spilled beer on my head&emdash;but hey, that’s summer.

The Sacramento summer music scene has its own charms, hopefully minus the surprise splash of beer in the hair. For starters, it just wouldn’t be summer without Music Circus&emdash;a local tradition since 1951&emdash;and other annual events also have stood the test of time, such as Grass Valley’s Music in the Mountains, now in its 25th year. Such are the things that make a season a season. Summer is a hot time for concert tours as well, making it a ripe time to catch your favorite band on the run.

Here are a few highlights on the regional music calendar this season.

*All That Jazz
Brubeck is back: Well, actually, he never went away, which is amazing considering the jazz piano legend is now in his 80s. He’s one of those guys who will probably keep touring ’til he drops. But once a performer is in his eighth decade of life, it’s advisable to catch him while you can, so mark your calendar for Saturday, Aug. 26 for the Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Radisson Hotel’s Guzzetta Grove.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster at (916) 649-8497 or ticketmaster.com. (916-922-2020; radissonsac.com)

It’s no crock: The Crocker Art Museum caters not only to art aficionados, but to music fans as well. Third Thursday Jazz is a year-round event for the venerable museum, but the music moves from the ballroom to the courtyard in warmer weather. Performances start at 5:30 p.m. and end at 8 p.m.; at intermission, you can partake in a guided spotlight tour of a museum exhibit. It’s free for members, $10 for nonmembers. The Crocker Art Museum is located at 216 O St., Sacramento. (916-264-5423; crockerartmuseum.org)

* Blues and R&B
The 12th annual Meadowview Jazz and Cultural Festival isn’t strictly about jazz, which is why we’re listing it under the broader category of R&B. This year’s stellar lineup includes LTD, the Ohio Players and War, whose 1971 breakthrough album All Day Music perfectly describes the festival itself&emdash;an all-day musical celebration. Local bands include the Garrett Perkins Project and Sacred Fire. The 13th annual festival will be held Saturday, June 24 at Cosumnes River College Stadium, 8401 Center Parkway in Sacramento. Gates open at 1 p.m. and the show starts at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the gate. (916-808-7008; cityofsacramento.org)

Summer in summer: It’s just too perfect. Donna Summer is performing this summer (later this month, actually) at Cache Creek Casino. The original diva of ’70s disco still works hard for the money, and it shows: Those are some powerful pipes. Tickets are $69–$89 for the Friday, June 30 show, which starts at 8 p.m. Cache Creek is located at 14455 Highway 16 in Brooks (about 25 miles west of Woodland). Tickets are available through Ticketmaster at (916) 649-8497 or ticketmaster.com. (888-772-2243; cachecreek.com)

Best-kept secret: Sunday’s Best, held on second Sundays through September at the Powerhouse Pub in Folsom, offers a welcome escape from the blazing afternoon heat&emdash;and it’s free. From 3 to 6 p.m., you can chill out in the cool-as-a-cave club while getting a soul vaccination from two live bands. (The mix is eclectic, but the emphasis is on blues and R&B.) The June 11 show features funk/blues band Phatcatz and the Motown-R&B-soul grooves of FBI; the same pairing returns on Sept. 10. On July 9, it’s the Blue Gills and Mad Dash, and on Aug. 13, the Blue Gills return with Stephen’s Hart. The Powerhouse Pub is located at 614 Sutter St. in Folsom. (530-320-3309 or 916-355-8586; powerhousepub.com)

* Classical
Big news for the Music in the Mountains folks: It’s their 25th anniversary&emdash;and Mozart’s 250th&emdash;and they are celebrating both at this year’s spectacular Summer Fest. Kicking off with Wildly Wolfgang, a Mozart Gala Ball on Friday, June 2, the concert series continues through July 3, culminating in Happy Birthday, U.S.A., an outdoor picnic and pops concert featuring the festival orchestra and chorus. Performances are held at the Amaral Family Festival Center, Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley. (800-218-2188 or 530-265-6124; musicinthemountains.org)

Opera buffs, mark your calendars: July 17 is the day that individual tickets go on sale for the 2006–07 season of the Sacramento Opera, which kicks off Friday, Sept. 15 with Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. Directed by TV/film star John de Lancie, Cosi Fan Tutte will also be performed Sunday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L St. Single tickets range from $15–$110. To purchase, call (916) 264-5181. (916-737-1000; sacopera.org)

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to mention the June 9 Arco Arena appearance of beloved opera singer Andrea Bocelli, whose warm tenor and charisma quotient have taken him beyond classical confines and into the mainstream. The show likely will be sold out by the time you read this, but the mere fact that he’s coming to Sacramento is worth a mention&emdash;and hey, there’s always eBay. But if you’re feeling lucky, give Ticketmaster a try at (916) 649-8497 or ticketmaster.com. Tickets run $55.25–$275.25.

-Zooropa&emdash;So you were only expecting kiddie tunes here? Hardly. The Sacramento Zoo has a concert calendar to contend with. Shana Morrison&emdash;yep, that’s Van’s daughter&emdash;is just one of the highlights of this year’s Music in the Zoo concerts, which are held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays from June 6 to July 25. Morrison will stir up the natives with her eclectic blend of Irish folk, R&B, country, blues and jazz on June 20; other performers include local favorites Bucho on June 6 and Wake the Dead, billed as the world’s first Celtic all-star Grateful Dead jam band, on June 27. Admission prices vary by concert. The zoo is located at 3930 W. Land Park Drive, Sacramento. (916-264-5888; saczoo.com)

*On Broadway
They say the neon lights are bright . . . at the Music Circus? Well, close enough. Now that they’ve moved out of the thermostatically challenged tent and into the grand Wells Fargo Pavilion, where air conditioning rules, musical theater fans have something to sing about.

Single-show tickets went on sale May 15. The lineup looks like this:

Fiddler on the Roof: July 7–16
Aida: July 18–23
South Pacific: July 25–30
A Little Night Music: Aug. 1–6
The Music Man: Aug. 8–13
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Aug. 15–20
Smokey Joe’s Caf: Aug. 22–31

Music Circus is located at 1419 H St., Sacramento. (916-557-1999; californiamusicaltheatre.com)

* Saturday in the Park
You could drag your acoustic guitar to the park, stake out a spot and play until your heart’s content&emdash;or simply let someone else entertain you at Pops in the Park. The annual concert series offers some of the area’s top talent in relaxing outdoor settings. You can either pack a picnic or plan on purchasing food and beverages from local restaurant vendors. Concerts start at 6 p.m. and are free. (916-808-7003; cityofsacramento.org)

June 3: Funkengruven at McKinley Park, H Street and Alhambra Boulevard
June 10: Garratt Wilkin & the Parrotheads at Glenn Hall Park, Carlson and Sandburg drives
June 17: Bill Rase Orchestra at Bertha Henschel Park, 45th Street and Brand Way
June 24: Conquista Musical at East Portal Park, 51st and M streets

If you live in Rocklin, Elk Grove, Carmichael or another outlying area, check your local city listings for similar concerts in your neighborhood parks.

-Friday on my Mind&emdash;LOCAL BANDS ROCK DOWNTOWN&emdash;It may be the biggest happy hour in town.

Every Friday night during the summer, thousands of locals pour into Cesar Chavez Plaza to catch some free music, have a beer and hang with friends. Now in its 16th season, the Friday Night Concerts in the Park series started this year on Cinco de Mayo (perfect for a party) and continues through Aug. 11.

The cool thing is it’s free and for all ages, and we only book local bands, says Lisa Martinez, director of marketing and outreach for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. I’ve seen young families with kids in strollers, kids from high school and big kids like me, who go after work. Food and drink are available for purchase, and there’s a beer garden for the 21-and-older crowd.

No matter what kind of music you like, you’ll probably find it here, says Martinez. One night it could be a Latin band with funk grooves, another night it might be hard-core blues or hard rock. We try to cover as many genres as possible. Although the headliner is typically a perennial Sacramento favorite such as Mumbo Gumbo or Little Charlie and the Nightcats, newer artists are featured as opening acts.

There’s a certain intoxicating feeling about outdoor music on a balmy summer night that seems to bring people together, adds Martinez.

People always seem to run into people they haven’t seen in a while, and it’s a great meeting place, she says. You could meet a new friend or even the love of your life&emdash;you never know.

Friday Night Concerts in the Park are held at Cesar Chavez Plaza, 10th and J streets in Sacramento. Concerts start at 5 p.m., but early arrival is advised. (916-442-8575; downtownsac.org.)

* What songs say summer to you?

-Mick Martin, leader of the Blues Rockers and host of Blues Party, Saturdays 1–5 p.m., on KXJZ 88.9 FM:

Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandellas
The ultimate ‘summer’ song.

Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran
Cochran said it all in this teenage-angst anthem.

All Summer Long by The Beach Boys
No one caught the waves of summer like Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson in his halcyon days.

Summer in the City by The Lovin’ Spoonful
Whenever the winter cold gets deep down in your bones, revisit this sweat-inducing classic.

Keep the Summer Alive by The Beach Boys
Before the near-miraculous comeback of brother Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson (both now gone) wrote some of The Beach Boys’ most memorable material.

-Tom Nakashima, weekdays 2–6 p.m., KSEG 96.9 FM (The Eagle):

The Monkey Time by Major Lance
I love classic rock, but I grew up on R&B.

Heat of the Moment by Asia

Vehicle by Ides of March

Jeopardy by Greg Kihn Band

Nothin’ Left to Burn by The Soul Prophets The Prophets is my brother Robert’s band.

-Lynda Clayton, weekdays 9 a.m.–3 p.m., KSSJ 94.7 FM (Smooth Jazz):

Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly & the Family Stone

Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong

Latin Quarter by Marc Antoine

All Day Music by War

In the Summertime by Mongo Jerry

-Jennifer Wood, weekdays 10 a.m.–3 p.m., KYMX 96.1 FM (Mix 96):

Centerfield by John Fogerty
I grew up a Cubs fan in Valparaiso, Indiana . . . disappointed every year as a child, but love the baseball!

Kokomo by The Beach Boys
Growing up in Indiana, I knew the difference between ‘Kokomo’ and Kokomo, Indiana&emdash;big difference!

Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
‘Nuff said on that one.

When the Sun Goes Down by Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker
Lots of pretty scenery (and boys) in that video.

Summer by War
Anyone remember 8-track tapes?