PLYMOUTH — Where else but the Amador County Fair can you meet a wheelwright who traveled the United States by covered wagon and a rifle-toting Mountain Man shopping on the midway, then listen to a unique Celtic rock band called Tempest or the city sounds of Maxx Cabello Jr.? Then The Spazmatics (who just got some notoriety for playing at Drew Barrymore’s wedding) will take you back to the ’80s.
The Amador County Fair, July 26-29, is an amazing collection of old and new, traditional and trendy. You can dine on the once-a-year guilty pleasure of fair food, then taste fine award-winning wines with the Amador Winegrowers on Friday night, or hoist a microbrew at the brew tastings on the weekend.
“We have to keep things fresh and exciting for our fair visitors,” said Troy Bowers, CEO of the fair. “But we need to keep our traditions alive as well. The fairgrounds is a living history museum that we don’t want to abandon.”
He is speaking of the permanent exhibits that are as much a part of the Amador County Fair as the carnival and corn dogs.
Visitors flock to see the turn of the century sawmill using steam power to cut massive logs, to watch as ore is stamped at the Pokerville Gold Mine, or to see the Mountain Men reenact an old saloon fight. Alongside the whirling, twirling neon of the carnival, the daily antique tractor parade chugs along.
As usual there are hours of fun things for kids to do that don’t cost parents a nickel, including free admission on Thursday until 6 p.m.
All kinds of fun activities await in the 49er Kids Town. They can laugh and learn how to juggle with the Jumbo Shrimp Circus and they can learn about Amador County’s Miwok culture under the willow-branch-covered round lodge, where they can make and take home a craft project. At the Gold Mine they can pan for gold and experience the riches of learning.
There’s a charge for entertainment in the Grandstands Friday through Sunday, but that won’t stop capacity crowds at the Truck Pulls on Friday night, the Rodeo on Saturday and the packed Destruction Derby on Sunday. Buying a reserved seat in advance is a good idea.
Thursday night the arena will host the Mutton Bustin’ preliminary round with the finalists going on to compete during the rodeo. “Pay What You Can” donations are requested to watch the Mutton Bustin.’
The fair wouldn’t be the fair without everyone in Amador County working, volunteering or dropping by. From manning service club booths, to monitoring buildings, to sponsoring various items and activities, residents of Amador County are very involved in the annual event.
The exhibit halls are filled with art, quilts, baked goods, preserves, needle arts, plants and flowers, gems and minerals, and junior projects. The barns bustle with animals tended by 4-H and FFA youth, show rings, and with parents not far away making sure all is well.
Tickets are available online where visitors can save on fair admission and carnival rides. Reserved seats for grandstand events and the wine tasting on Friday night are available in advance as well.
For more information about the Amador County Fair, July 26-29, visit amadorcountyfair.com.