Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tips for a fun time at the fair

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A BIRDS EYE view of the carnival area from atop the Ferris wheel gives an overview of the fun at the El Dorado County Fair in Placerville. Democrat photo by pat Dollins

What: El Dorado County Fair

Where: El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville

When: Friday noon to midnight, Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday noon to 10 p.m.

Information: 530-621-5860 or

The El Dorado County Fair “Blue Jeans and Country Dreams” continues with music, events and exhibits through Sunday, Father’s Day, June 16.

Along with all the comforting memories, there are plenty of new and lesser-known things that go on at the fair each year. From least-used restrooms and parking tricks to secret gardens and where to find those freshly made pies and donuts, here’s a look at some of the more unfamiliar sights of the fair.


Getting there

According to fair spokesperson Suzanne Wright, the best gate to use is the Green Gate, which has less traffic and is where you will be dropped off if you take the shuttle. (One secret is to take the free shuttle to save parking hassles and costs.)

For an even bigger secret, use Race Gate. Park up in the ball fields, go through the tiers and walk to the backside of the racetrack and through that gate. You also can buy tickets there with no lines.

There are three off-site lots with free parking and a free shuttle service that runs every 15 to 20 minutes starting half an hour before opening and half an hour after closing: El Dorado County Government Center at Fair Lane and Fair Lane Court in Placerville; Walmart park and ride lot, park and board at the corner of the lot near Panda Express, 4280 Missouri Flat Road in Placerville; and Prospector Plaza, between Kmart and SaveMart, 3964 Missouri Flat Road in Placerville). Funding is provided by the El Dorado County Air Quality Management District, the El Dorado County Fair Association and El Dorado Transit.


Deals and discounts

“There’s no reason why anyone should pay full price to get into the fair,” Wright said. Most people know about the Gold Discovery Pass (four one-day passes plus 40 carnival tickets — valid any day of the fair is $45), Season Passes (daily admission through Sunday is $20), then on Friday, teens (13 to 19 years old) are free until 4 p.m. But a lesser-known deal is the Father’s Day package — one 2013 Dad’s Day T-shirt (when worn by Dad, he gets in free on Sunday), one general admission ticket, one junior admission ticket, and one unlimited ride carnival wristband for $35.

See for a complete list of discounts. You can also find coupons around town that give you a discount at the gate.


Creature comforts

If you’re looking for bathrooms that aren’t too crowded, look to the Home Arts Building. Wright said the restrooms in the Home Arts Building are the most overlooked and they’re air conditioned, too.

Fair visitors can also find a cozy picnic area next to the breezeway near the small beer booth, behind the funnel cake booth. It is a shady grassy area with picnic tables.

Wright said, there is a shaded grape arbor with picnic benches, music throughout the day and a full bar right next door (near the Plaza).

“We even sell Grapefruit-tinis made with Grape Go Girl, Go Girl Lemon Drops and Cruzin’ Confusion, a drink made with coconut and mango rum. We also have frozen drinks at the Tiki Bar (near the Wool and Industrial Art Building), Piña Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, and Lava Flow, which is a combo of the two,” Wright said.

For parents of infants, we have the Baby Corner sponsored by First 5, with changing tables, rocking chairs to feed your infant, sunscreen, and even books and toys to entertain toddlers while you take care of business.


Fun facts

Did you know that Chet Carsten has won the annual Wheelbarrow Race more than anyone else and has held that title for 59 years? Well, this year El Dorado County Board of Supervisor, Brian Veerkamp is planning to take that title away from him. Veerkamp is currently tied with Carson with eight wins. Do you think that he can take the title and win it nine times?

Finally, if you’re looking for fresh-baked daily pies and doughnuts, look for the new pastry booth called “Blue Ribbon Pie and Donuts” on Concession Row next to Union Mine’s hamburgers and breakfast burritos. As a bonus, you can feel good about buying the food, since the all money raised goes toward capital improvements at the fairgrounds. What a way to make calories count.

During the fair admission is $9 for ages 13 and over $7 for juniors (ages 7-12) and seniors (ages 60 and over) and free for children 6 and under and attendees in military uniform. Ride wristbands are $30.

The Extreme Freestyle Moto X Spectacular on Saturday in the grandstands at 2 p.m is $13 adult and $9 junior or at 7 p.m. $16 adult and $10 junior and includes fair admission.

Parking is $6 for cars and motorcycles.

El Dorado County Fair


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