Wednesday, April 23, 2014

County fair in full swing

DSC_7221 ec

KYLIE RUSSELL, 15, left, and Rachael Stevenson, right, have fun during preview night at the El Dorado County Fair in Placerville on Wednesday, June 12. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

From page A1 | June 14, 2013 | 26 Comments

In a vision of things to come, sponsors, VIPs and fair staff gathered Wednesday night for a sneak preview of this year’s El Dorado County Fair.

With a theme of “Blue Jeans and Country Dreams,” the fairgrounds sparked with lights, sounds and sugary smells — all announcing the start of the four-day event that began Thursday and runs through Sunday.

Jody Gray, who is the CEO of the fair, said she expects 65,000 adults and children to attend, with lots of new entertainment and exhibits as well as the return of many old favorites as attractions.

The preview event attracted 400 to 500 people with many bringing their children as the fairgrounds were turned into their personal playground with free bags of cotton candy and buttered popcorn, free play at all the carnival booths, and a chance to get aboard as many of the rides as their hearts and stomachs could take.

Gray said the event is held annually to thank all the sponsors, dignitaries and volunteers and to kick off the publicity for the fair.

On hand to help fair guests enjoy the evening were eight members of the Mother Lode Lion’s Club who served up a barbecue dinner while members of the fair board of directors, like Earl McGuire and Mike Owen, sold beer and wine.

The meal was a reminder of one of the fair’s big attractions — carnival food. Who doesn’t crave their yearly corn dog on a stick, slathered in mustard and accompanied by a cold beer while visiting the exhibits and commercials booths? And if you don’t leave the fair sticky from the candy apples, fudge and other goodies, you’re doing something wrong.

Then there are the food demonstrations, which count as some of the best entertainment at the fair with the added bonus of people being able to buy products afterwards, like Crazy Charley’s barbecue sauce, at bargain prices.

Owen said one of the new exhibits this year is of animals from Australia including wallabies, wallaroos, kookaburras and kangaroos, as well as an exhibit featuring wool — thus highlighting the importance of animal husbandry in El Dorado County.

Besides those exhibits there are plenty of other events for animal lovers from the Pygmy Goat show to the 4-H/FFA El Dorado County Junior Livestock Auction on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. The event always draws a large audience of those there to bid, as well as others who just enjoy watching the fast-paced event.

Providing a preview of those events on Wednesday night were Jordyn Gilmore, 15, who showed off her exotic pig, Rue, which romped through the grass, and Adrianna Novelo, 16, who brought the cow and calf she raised. Novelo will show both during the fair as well as sell a steer at auction.

A wide variety of musical entertainment will be available during the fair from rock bands, country western and hot gypsy jazz as well as tribute bands playing the music of Tim McGraw and the Rolling Stones.

Owen said other popular entertainment includes the always exciting wheelbarrow race and Susan Rosen — the Mistress of Mesmerism. There is even participatory entertainment such as a chance to bang away at an old car at a dollar a pop with the proceeds going to benefit M.O.R.E.

McGuire mentioned the appeal of county fairs including information on new products, food and entertainment. “People come to share ideas and participate in competitions and to see something new,” he said.

And indeed there is a long list of competitions from bubble gum blowing, to Teicher’s Free Bean Spitting Contest and Tortilla Toss Contest.

Kids in particular love fairs because of the games and rides. Wednesday night was a child’s paradise as kids jumped from the balloon water race to the merry-go-round. Little Tess Bowman, 5, took on the alligator roller coaster all by herself while the grandson of Ann and Gary McMillan thrilled to a ride called Casino. McMillan said her daughter and grandson came all the way from the midwest for the fair.

Fair hours are noon to midnight on Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Ticket prices and discounts vary, so check the fairground’s Website for the best package for you and your family at

Paid parking at the fairgrounds is available as well as a free parking and shuttle service at three locations: the Placerville Library/Government Center, the Walmart Park & Ride Lot, and Prospector Plaza between Kmart and SaveMart.

So put on your jeans, pack up the young’uns and head over to this year’s El Dorado County Fair for the best overall entertainment venue in the county.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.


Discussion | 26 comments

  • HelenJune 14, 2013 - 10:04 pm

    Well another year has gone by. I was born and raised in this county. The last 5 years at the fair have been terrible. This year the worst. It is Friday nite and we are leaving the fair at 9:35pm. We got here at 6pm. Three adults and one teenager. The were fewer venders than last year. A lot more junk stuff. When will they learn about keeping th prices down so more venders will come. If I were the venders there I would be mad, because fewer people were at the fair. That means fewer fair goers, mean less food, drinks and others purchases made. Friday night was a definate disappointment. The few clothing shops were junk. None of the music tapes, local history books, plants, etc. gone. If this is the person in charge idea of a great fair. Fire her. If this is what will be the future of this wonderful fair, I'm afraid there is no future. Pay these people in charge less, until we see a. Increase in the fair: obviously they are not DOING there job. And don't blame it on the economy. This fair just stunk.

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  • HelenJune 14, 2013 - 10:10 pm

    Please understand that this statement was made because I care about this fair . A lot of great memories were made there growing up.

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  • local yokelJune 15, 2013 - 6:22 am

    Some people wonder if the fair is being destroyed deliberately so that the land can be developed for other purposes. Anyone know who owns the fairgrounds?

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  • CherylJune 15, 2013 - 7:42 am

    I was surprised at the junk the vendors were selling over by the rides last year. You can find much better crafts, etc at apple hill!

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  • Nathan foltzJune 15, 2013 - 9:16 am

    The fair was better when in was held the last couple days of July and the first day or two of Aug

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  • Born in HangtownJune 16, 2013 - 12:42 am

    The fair was an annual event for me, starting in 1968. I stopped attending around 2000 because it lost it's appeal and by the looks of decreased attendance, I'm not the only one. They can rename it "El Dorado County Flea Market next to the Beer Tree". Sorry, to those with booths at flea markets. The fair's one step below Flea markets.

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  • LpJune 16, 2013 - 1:29 am

    Move the fair back to the end of July, and the beginning of August. No produce, nothing but a flea why they call it a fair? ' cause it ain't very good! Fire who's ever running it!

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  • EvelynJune 16, 2013 - 6:01 am

    El Dorado County Fair is a registered non-profit 501(c)(3). CEO Jody Gray's 2011 salary was $98,475. The Directors are Mike Denton, Mike Owen, Dee Kobervig, Mick McGuire, Pat O'Halloran, Rod Avery, Karen Feathers, Tom Davis, Kami Arnold & Tiffany Carter.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 16, 2013 - 6:40 am

    ~~~As it was in 1900~~~ I recall reading a letter from my Grandma, Mai to my Grandpa, Lou from 1900 something about Sweeney. Mai and Lou were newlyweds. Mai was out at Granite Hill (Gold Hill) while her love was in Nevada “peddling fruit”. Letters connected their newlywed passions and informed on current events. - Sept 5th, 1900 Mai writes to Lou (Carson City/Dayton/Silver City, NV): “Sweeney got first premium at the fair for fruit display, Killoughs second and Tinneys third. That’s pretty good for our vicinity isn’t it? I imagine Sweeney will be greatly puffed up over it. It seems that the more things change the more they remain the same. Do you suppose Sweeney’s first place at the County Fair in 1900 was ill-gotten? GOB??? Hmmmmm . . . . .

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  • EvelynJune 16, 2013 - 6:53 am

    Interesting thumbnail fair history HERE. "The land on which the Fairgrounds sit today was purchased from Loren & Mary Forni in three transactions between 1939 and 1950."

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  • FranJune 16, 2013 - 8:31 am

    Reading the posts of people saying the fair is not what it used to be--is a "red" flag to me now a days...logging days gone...less support for our Wagon train coming through...makes me wonder if these events are being unsupported on purpose. I remember at the town meeting where Mr.Ward said sometimes you have to put history behind you...what a "sad" statement. If the fair goes the way of logging days--what would the area be used for? More apartments and a shopping "village" in Pollock, the movement on Pony Express is becoming interesting. Where a reality group just moved--corner of sanders and a huge chuck of land--that for a long time has been advertised as a business area--makes you wonder...a couple people have mentioned low income apartments going in soon--where? Our meeting is June 24th at the Pollock Pines Camino Community Center...I invite you to come. I think about the kids when Im at these meetings...I worry about our baseball field...I worry about families...Is your fair in Placerville disappearing? I wonder why people who are self appointed are in charge--I wonder why they do not step down...power? Come to our has been said over and over that our community wanted this--I find our community doesnt know anything about it. We have a meeting about our bridge on the 20th--the bridge is also part of connecting the Bike/hiking trail that starts at sac--and will go all the way to Tahoe--lots of money being. spent

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  • EvelynJune 16, 2013 - 8:42 am

    Fran: The fairgrounds land has GOT to be prime real estate. That simple fact cannot have escaped notice of more than several people.

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  • HelenJune 16, 2013 - 8:46 am

    Well, it seems that since it is a non-profit org., than maybe the fees to the vendors should be less. As far as the CEO and directors go, I think they really need to makes some changes. It seems that the majority also thinks the same.....get the fair back into the fair mode. Get thes good vendors back. All the vendors in the front were gone. A lot of the vendors between the art buildings gone. almost all of the vendors back by the animals, behind the Cowboy vendor ....Empty. Again, lets save our fair. Lets concentrate on what made this county a great place to grow up in. The history, the farming, gold panning, lumber business, and better vendors. The type you want to see at the fairs. I even misses the local businesses that had their booths there, which aren't now. There are a lot of non-political people there with great ideas for the fairs future. Get them involved.

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  • fernJune 16, 2013 - 8:47 am

    Very disappointed in the fair this year. Especially the layout. It seemed like a lot of vendor booths were empty and there was less participation in the exhibits. The AG portion has almost disappeared. It's no longer a country fair. The story we were given when the fair was moved to June was they wanted to have a Harvest Festival. Well that is long gone so move the fair back to the end of July!

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  • FranJune 16, 2013 - 8:55 am

    Evelyn good morning miss...I know that the economic development groups (advisory boards) know...the corner on sanders and Pony up here is actually really big--it has always had trees hiding it--trees have been coming down lately...stack in packs? There is a new item to our list of horrors...more and more "adult" non profits are forming in El Dorado County...and while they are fighting over donations--the "kid" groups are suffering...I have spoken with several businesses that have said once all the "adult" groups come through --there is no more money for the children. Groups such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, School fund raisers for classrooms and field trips. I guess these new nonprofits forgot about the children s organizations. I was at an event for a children s non-profit yesterday, where a new business catered....they split the money from the food 90% them--10% to the kids--come on...they were advertising for free...I just walked away shaking my head.

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  • Fairground economicsJune 16, 2013 - 9:22 am

    There is always lots of fussing about the fair at fair time, but where is all of that "constructive" criticism during the planning process?? Attend a few meetings, join the process, learn about the economics of running a fair, managing a fairground, etc.. As the saying goes, "those who can ..... do". The real change is that the Fair has become a business trying to maintain financial viability each year. Who spends money at the fair? What are the revenue generators? Pretty basic stuff.

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  • HelenJune 16, 2013 - 10:40 am

    That's not a problem. I think that those meeting times should be posted in advance so WE the people can come and give our suggestions. But what I don't understand us why are those WHO are in charge can't see this. They are suppose to understand these problems and correct them. What I would like to see is a report on all that is spent on the fair. Who the companies are, who owns these companies. What the cost to the vendor are per location. How much it will cost to break even, before any "profits". This is the first thing that needs to be addressed. And it should be made public.

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  • FranJune 16, 2013 - 11:25 am

    Helen--great post...I think many things are not made public...and small groups are deciding for a whole. In my humble opinion. I think non-profits are forgetting that the public is entitled to full disclosure of any thing that runs on the "peoples" donations. I think people such as yourself are starting to question non-profits...and Im so glad. Read.

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  • EvelynJune 16, 2013 - 11:30 am

    "Fairground economics" - One of the above suggestions is to move the fair back to the end of July. What do you think?

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  • EvelynJune 16, 2013 - 11:33 am

    Question: Are the freeway $millions just in aid of the new court house? Seems likely there could be multiple beneficiaries.

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  • EvelynJune 16, 2013 - 11:38 am

    "Fairground economics" (9:22am - above) invites us to "Attend a few meetings, join the process, learn about the economics of running a fair, managing a fairground." Board meeting dates HERE. The next meeting is August 7th @ 5:30 pm.

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  • fernJune 16, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    I HAVE attended a meeting. Anyone who disagreed with the board was immediately shut down. The most priceless moment was when a person was told that if they didn't like the judging then they would just change the judging to be closed (not open to the public). So instead of fixing the problem of hiring an unqualified judge they would just prefer to hide the problem. Honestly the attitude and opinions of the board is so far apart from the people who attend the fair that it's hard to believe there is any common ground. There were a lot of empty vendor booths. Why not let the nonprofits attend? How much does it cost the fair to let them fill an empty booth? I think it's a shame they were priced out of participating. Big loss to the community.

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  • EvelynJune 16, 2013 - 12:17 pm

    Fern: I totally believe it when you say that anyone who disagreed was shut down. Boards, Councils & Advisory Committees only want our participation when we agree with them. Otherwise, we're regarded as a nuisance. Not for one second do I take “Fairground economics” seriously.

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  • FranJune 16, 2013 - 1:08 pm

    Fern--" Honestly the attitude and opinions of the board is so far apart from the people who attend...: wow--have you been to the Pollock Pines town "visioning" meetings--your words describe those as well--if you subtract board for CEDAPP and finish with " in Pollock." come to our next meeting, June 24th. You can write about the comparisons.

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  • HelenJune 17, 2013 - 9:33 am

    Well, from all this discussion....I think we have quite a few people who are interested in SAVING our County Fair. I think if we are serious, we need to form a group, this way we have organization. I am willing to be in this group, are there any one else that would like to join me??? This is not something that just one or two people can take on. This would be a great undertaking.....and see what we, as the people who care about our county can do. I think we need to get this out to all other people who want to save the "El Dorado County Fair", and get them involved. The larger the number, the better the results.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 17, 2013 - 10:08 am

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