County Fair Will Open With Parade
What has more than 7,000 heads, races in circles, hollers like a hog and wants to shave you with an ax?
It’s the Los Angeles County Fair, of course. America’s largest county fair opens today in Pomona with a parade and torchlighting ceremony. If good weather prevails, more than 1.3 million people will visit the fair by the time the gates close Oct. 2, according to Sid Robinson, spokesman for the fair.
Started in 1922 as a show for agriculture and animals, the modern fair features displays of everything from barnyard animals to back yard Jacuzzis and offers such popular distractions as pari-mutuel horse racing and a 120-foot Ferris wheel. “Technology has changed what you would find at the fair, but not the idea of the fair,” Robinson said.
New this year is a team of lumberjacks from the state of Washington who will demonstrate log-rolling, ax-throwing, crosscut-sawing, pole-climbing and, yes, beard-shaving with a razor-sharp ax.
The fair’s biggest attractions, Robinson said, are its agricultural exhibits. There are more than 3,000 head of livestock (cattle, sheep, swine and goats), plus more than 4,000 head of “small stock,” such as rabbits, chickens, guinea pigs and pigeons.
“People have never seen a lot of these animals,” said Bill Turnquist, agricultural manager for the fair. He pointed out the “World of Pigmania” exhibit features 19 breeds of swine--more than most people have ever seen and more than some people might ever want to.
Other livestock exhibits include demonstrations of milking techniques and a calf-petting corral at “The World of Dairy,” as well as the ever-popular racing razorback hogs.
There’s also horse racing at the Fairplex Park, which operates as part of the fair. Ranked 12th in the nation in average daily wagering, the Pomona track offers horse racing with pari-mutuel betting as a daily feature.
In all, there will be 19 thoroughbred stakes events, as well as competition in quarter horse, Arabian and Appaloosa categories. Purses are expected to total nearly $4 million.
There are 77 contests planned this year, more than ever before at the fair. Fair goers can try their skill at hog-calling, horse-hair braiding, vegetable arranging, hula-hooping, ice-cream scooping, girdle-tying, cake decorating and melon carving.
For those who’d rather watch contests than participate in them, there’s also a mock Olympic Village, decorated with artifacts from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and featuring three large-screen television sets showing the action in Seoul.
About 1,500 commercial exhibitors will be selling everything from kitchen appliances to satellite dishes, Robinson said. Exhibit space is sold out, and there’s already a waiting list for next year’s fair.
L.A. COUNTY FAIR HIGHLIGHTS
Contests: Public registration required half an hour before contests start, unless otherwise indicated. * Mural Painting, noon-4 p.m. daily. Registration 10-11 a.m.
* Razzle Dazzle Sweatshirt/T-Shirt Decorating, 1 p.m. today.
* Betty Crocker Cake Decorating for Amateurs, 10 a.m. Friday. Registration closed.
* The Great Girdle Tie, 11 a.m. Friday.
* Opening Day Parade, 7 p.m. today.
* Freddie Fender, 7, 9 p.m. through Friday.
Livestock, Equestrian Events:
* California Saddle Horse Breeders Futurity, 1, 7:30 p.m. through Saturday; 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
* College and FFA Market Lambs, 12:30 p.m. Friday.
Daily attractions include carnival, horse racing, lumberjack show, Olympic Village, pig races, stage shows, stunt divers and nightly fireworks.
Fair exhibits include Agriculture, Commercial Complex, Education Expo, Fine Arts, Flower and Garden Festival, Heritage Farm, Home Arts, Model Dairy, Photography, Wines and Youth in Action.
Hours: Gates and buildings open at 10 a.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Buildings close nightly at 10 p.m. except Fridays and Saturdays when closing is at 11 p.m. Admission: General, $7; children 6-12, $4; seniors over 60, $5.50 Monday-Friday only.
Location: Fairgrounds are about 30 miles east of Los Angeles in Pomona, two blocks north of San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10). Accessible from Ganesha, White or Garey avenues. For information, (714) 623-3111.