Author: Sommer Hamilton
If there is one place in L.A. where you could not eat anything healthy if you tried, the county fair is it. If you can even find a vegetable, odds are it’s deep-fried. The food vendors seem determined to fry or put on a stick (or both!) every food imaginable. Even liquids are fair game (no pun intended)-they sell deep-fried Coke! Only there could you get a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried jalapeno on a stick or a sandwich with a piece of chicken between Krispy Kreme doughnuts that’s been plunked in the deep fryer. Don’t worry though, the Pomona Fairplex, where the fair was held from September 7-30, is big enough to walk off some of those calories.
The Los Angeles County Fair is a picture of excess. According to the website, it is the “largest consumer products show in the West” with over 1,000 vendors selling over 22,000 products. These vendors and their wares are spread throughout the fair and take up space in five buildings. The products span the entire range from boats to sequined Bert & Ernie purses. If you have an affinity for buying crap, you’ll never leave. It’s kind of like the Eagle Rock Farmers’ Market to the nth degree. The higher-end retail includes home and garden products and services. Of course a county fair in Los Angeles would focus predominantly on shopping.
The more traditional county fair activities are present as well, but are much less recognized than in other areas of the country. There are livestock, baking, needlepoint, quilting, dairy foods and photography contests as well as wine and beer-making contests that are separated into both professional and “home” categories. To make it a little more ‘L.A.,’ they at least threw in a spinning contest. But the suggested attire for this spinning class is “period costume” rather than spandex. Contestants are urged to “bring their favorite wheel” to see who can spin the best thread in three different ability levels.
The fair attracts a variety of demographics, and people from every age group seemed to love the Fairplex Farm, where you can pet all sorts of farm animals. Some of the animals are arranged in pens themed from nursery rhymes and childhood stories like “The Three Billy Goats Gruff,” “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” and “The Three Little Pigs.” There is also a Charlotte’s Web section where kids can see animals from the book and movie. The piglets are, by far, the cutest, especially when 18 of them are sleeping together in one big pile. There are also puppies, turkeys, sheep, lambs, goats, donkeys, chickens and chicks, horses, cows and their calves and bunnies, or “hippity hop-hops,” as one girl called them.
While I was there, parents seemed intent on feeding their children to the calves. Several parents repeatedly held their children up to be licked by the two calves, they and their cameras thrilled, the terrified children, less so. But, when willing, you can pet almost all of the animals there. One relatively sick element of the Fairplex Farm is that it is sponsored by McDonalds. On the cow pen they have signs referencing the quality of their beef. Seriously.
The fair does a good job of bringing in a variety of people-there were kids in strollers right next to their grandparents in wheelchairs. In this regard, the fair does a great job of being accessible to people of all abilities: there are no hills or stairs, and walkways are wide and accommodating. The price of admission is $5 after 5 p.m. so it also allows people who may not be able to afford the $13.95 regular price to go to the fair (they also offer student discounts!). This year the fair also featured Eco Now!, an exhibit designed to educate fairgoers about the environment and to introduce them to environmentally-friendly products and services.
It’s hard to get a meal for less than $10, and games and rides are expensive, but it’s a good day and/or night of fun. And if you’re up for it, the fair has galleries and tons of educational stuff, too. Though it’s over for this year, it’s always at the same place every year and offers many of the same attractions with a few new things as well. You can go back next year for the animals, the Demolition Derby, the horse races, the Winter Wonderland where it snows every 30 minutes, the concerts and, of course, tons of whirling rides if you feel the need to re-experience whatever fried foods you consumed earlier.
If you didn’t see the commercials for the fair, check them out on YouTube-they’re hilarious!
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