Fair Attendance Almost Matches 1992 : Recreation: County event holds its own, in contrast to others in the state. Metrolink service may have helped boost numbers, officials say.


Despite a continuing poor economy, the Ventura County Fair drew almost the same number of visitors this year as last.

Fair officials said Monday that 274,203 people attended the 12-day fair that ended Sunday, only about 300 fewer than in 1992.

“We’re clearly bucking a trend,” said Michael A. Paluszak, the fair’s general manager. Statewide, average attendance at county fairs has gone down 15% this year, he said.

Some fair officials said the huge popularity of Metrolink train service to the fair this year contributed to the event’s success.


About 35,000 people took the special weekend Metrolink trains to the fair, riding to the Ventura fairgrounds from Simi Valley, Moorpark, Camarillo and Oxnard, Metrolink officials said.

Fair board member Charles Schwabauer said he feels certain that many who rode Metrolink to the fair would not have gone otherwise.

“It brought up passengers from the east end of the county,” said Schwabauer, who lives in Moorpark. It also attracted people who wanted to avoid traffic and parking problems, he said.

And many families took Metrolink partly for the thrill of a train ride.


“It made a great outing for them, an economical outing,” he said.

Because of the success of the Metrolink fair service, Ventura County transportation officials are considering running a train from the east county to west county beaches on weekends throughout the year.

In addition to Metrolink, Paluszak suggested other reasons that the Ventura County Fair is weathering the recession better than some other county fairs.

Because Ventura County lacks the major museums, theme parks and other amusements of urban areas like Los Angeles, Ventura County residents are more likely to attend the annual 12-day festival.

“I think people make a point of saving enough for coming to the fair,” Paluszak said. “They know it’s only here once a year.”

Perhaps in response to economic concerns, more people took advantage of free-admission days at this year’s fair. As a result, about 105,700 fair-goers got in free this year, 3,000 more than last year. Total revenue from admissions was $835,853, nearly $30,000 less than in 1992.

Besides admitting children under 5 free every day, the fair offered free admission on certain days to older children, senior citizens and military personnel.

Visitors also spent less on carnival rides and games, as the fair’s share of carnival revenues dropped about $20,000 to $666,933.


Even with the slightly lower revenues from admissions and the carnival, Paluszak said the Ventura County Fair is doing better financially than many other fairs.

Total fair revenues, which include money from parking and concessions, are funneled back to the state’s 31st Agricultural District, which runs the fairgrounds. Although final figures are not tallied for this year, the Ventura County Fair traditionally is not a money-maker.

The self-supporting district--which has an $8.3 million annual budget--makes up the shortfall by using the 62-acre fairgrounds for year-round motor sports, an off-track betting pavilion, cat shows and other events.

But Paluszak said the fair provides more for county residents than 1 1/2 weeks of entertainment.

In addition to creating temporary jobs, the festival gives local merchants and service clubs the chance to earn money at booths and concessions.

“We have a huge impact on the local economy,” he said.

Ventura County Fair Prize Winners

Here are some of the top exhibit winners from the Ventura County Fair, which ended Sunday:



Best Exhibitor of Produce: Inara Jankovskis of Camarillo

Best Homemade Dairy Foods, Adult: Karen Allred of Ventura

Best Homemade Dairy Foods, Youth: Ashlee Allred of Ventura

Best Exhibitor of Herbs: Fred Manetti of Somis

Feature Exhibits:

Sweepstakes: Limoneira Ranch

Best Community Service Exhibit: Ventura County Fire Department

Best Exhibit Theme: Underwood Ranches

Best Use of Produce in Feature Exhibit: Oxnard Farmers Market


Best of Show: Cheryl Rivett of Oxnard

Sweepstakes: Cheryl Rivett

Sweepstakes for Youth: Tavis Haigler, Oxnard

Judge’s Trophy: Christine Roberts, Ventura

Judge’s Trophy for Youth: Sean Fekete of Ventura

Most Popular Aquarium: Christine Roberts

Most Popular Aquarium-Commercial: Brett’s Tropical Fish in Thousand Oaks

Fair Queen’s Choice-Aquarium: Sean Fekete

Fair Queen’s Choice-Koi Fish: Dolores Salinas of Sylmar

Grand Champion Koi: Don Kobashigawa of North Hollywood


Best Garden of Show: Richard Smith of Ashwood on Main in Ventura

Amateur Sweepstakes: Jacqueline Kelly of Ventura and Wayne Warzecha of Carpinteria

Nursery Stock Flower Growers Sweepstakes: Green Thumb Nurseries of Ventura

Commercial Sweepstakes: Nick Williams

Societies and Clubs Sweepstakes: Oxnard Bonsai Club


Best of Show: Mike David of Oxnard

Best of Show for Youth: Joel and Aaron Council of Newbury Park

Best of Show Single Item: Don Asher of Camarillo

Best of Show Single Item for Youth: Bill Roche of Camarillo

Directors’ Award: Emil Pfeiler of Camarillo

Best Fair Theme: Mike David of Oxnard

Best Fair Theme for Commercial Exhibit: Tak Matsuda of Ventura

Best Original Design: Stuart Chalfant of Simi Valley

Superintendent’s Special Award: Marilyn Pomerenke of Thousand Oaks

Best Case by Gem & Mineral Club: Ventura Gem & Mineral Society


Ages 4 to 6:

Sweepstakes: Casey Walker of Ojai

Best of Show: David Wilson of Ventura

Ages 7 to 9:

Sweepstakes: Tim Bradford of Ventura

Best of Show: Michael Robinson of Port Hueneme

Ages 10 to 12:

Sweepstakes & Best of Show: Jason Poole of Ventura

Ages 13 to 17:

Sweepstakes & Best of Show: Jenelle Chraft of Simi Valley

Adults with 5 years of experience or less:

Sweepstakes & Best of Show: Daniel Lazarich of Port Hueneme

Adults with more than 5 years experience:

Sweepstakes & Best of Show: Mark Orosco of Oxnard


Preserved Foods

Best of Show: Ted Leonard of Oak View

1st Sweepstakes: Inara Jankovskis of Camarillo

2nd Sweepstakes: Carolyn Parrish of Ventura

3rd Sweepstakes: Elynor Whitaker of Oxnard

Clothing and Textiles

Best of Show: Vicki Hutter of Somis

1st Sweepstakes: Linda Kapigian of Moorpark

2nd Sweepstakes: Lynn Robison of Simi Valley

3rd Sweepstakes: Elaine Rothermel of Oxnard

Arts and Crafts

Best of Show: Noreen Stewart of Oak View

1st Sweepstakes: Grace Baskin of Ventura

2nd Sweepstakes: Camille Guest of Oxnard

3rd Sweepstakes: Karen Riggin of Camarillo


Best of Show: Guadelupe Carlos of Ventura

1st Sweepstakes: Velia Marsh of Camarillo

2nd Sweepstakes: Carroll Shorts of Ventura

3rd Sweepstakes: tie--Beckie Brackett of Ojai and Leonard Bates of Ventura


Tri-County Amateur English:

Ages 12 & Under: Rachel Ovadia of Agoura Hills

Ages 13 to 17: Molly Robinson of Santa Barbara

Ages 18 and over: Mary Wilson Underwood of Santa Barbara

Tri-County Amateur Western:

Ages 12 & Under: Tanya Soans of Carpinteria

Ages 13 to 17: Stephanie Mora of Santa Paula

Ages 18 and over: Kathy Copus of Santa Barbara

National Reined Cow Horse Contest: horse “Charter Colonel,” which was ridden by Ted Robinson of Oak View and owned by Ralph and Mickie Gragg of Oak View



Best of Show, Adult: Veronica Salerno of Oak View

Best Reserve: Veronica Salerno

Best of Show, Youth: Amy Richardson of Camarillo

Best Reserve, Youth: Elizabeth Richardson of Camarillo


Best of Show, Adult: Ivan Gregory of Oak View

Best Reserve, Adult: Chris Harris of Reseda

Best of Show, Youth: Caitlin Crain of Oak View

Best Reserve, Youth: Bree Butler, Santa Paula


Best of Show, Adult: Linda Bell of Ontario

Best Reserve (2nd best): Carol Stoll of Woodland Hills

Best of Show, Youth: Tabetha Parrish of Santa Paula

Best Reserve, Youth: Jamie Sinclair of Santa Maria


Market Calves:

Grand Champion: owner Richard Svestka of Lebec

Reserve Champion: owner Bryan Haley of Ventura

Market Goats:

Grand Champion: owner Kathleen Haase of Fillmore

Reserve Champion: owner Serena Lettsome of Oxnard

Market Sheep:

Grand Champion: owner Heidi Sickler of Somis

Reserve Champion: owner Matt Pecht of Camarillo

Market Steer:

Grand Champion: owner Bret Haley of Ventura

Reserve Champion: owner Don Svestka of Lebec



Adult: Ellen Thomas of Thousand Oaks

Grades 9 to 12: Heidi Kewish of Simi Valley (grades 9 to 12)

Grades K to 8: Tabetha Parrish of Santa Paula

Slide Sweepstakes: John Ferritto of Ventura

Best Color Slide--Adult: Jeri Collari of Camarillo

Best Color Slide--Youth: Tami Lynn Sturdivant of Simi Valley

Best Print of Show:

Adult: Mark Williams of Camarillo

Grades 9 to 12: Rachel Byrd of Simi Valley

Grades K to 8: Katie Grasso of Santa Paula

Best Black-and-White Print:

Adult: Ken Koller of Newbury Park

Grades 9 to 12: Jesus Noriega of Port Hueneme

Grades K to 8: Rebecca Wismann of Camarillo

Best Color Print:

Adult: Benson Smithkin of Camarillo

Grades 9 to 12: Bridgett Frost of Simi Valley

Grades K to 8: Katie Grasso of Santa Paula

Best Use of Fair Theme: Connie Steidl of Thousand Oaks

Best Underwater Shot: Dave Reid of Oxnard

Best Print by a Senior Citizen; Benson Smithkin of Camarillo


Best of Show: Michele Chapin and Tom Porter of Ventura

Adah Callahan Memorial Award: Phyllis Doyon of Camarillo

1st Place Drawing: Marianne Miller of Oxnard

1st Place Historical: Lisa Kelley of Oak View

1st Place Mixed Media: Duane Simshauser of Fillmore

1st Place Oil and Acrylic: Shirley Ransom of Camarillo

1st Place Prints: Linda Taylor of Ojai

1st Place Watercolor: Jennie Snyder of Ventura

1st Place Sculpture: Michele Chapin of Ventura

1st Place Outdoor Sculpture: Michele Chapin and Tom Porter

1st Place Ceramics: Margy Gates

1st Place Porcelain Painting: Blanche McBroom of Ventura

YOUTH (arts & crafts by young people):

Ages 4 to 6:

Best of Show: Lindsay Hewitt of Ojai

Sweepstakes: Britney Ferro of Oak View

Directors’ Award: Jenny Butler of Ventura

Judge’s Special Award: Vanessa Sousa of Ventura

Best Fair Theme: Lauren Glass of Camarillo

Ages 7 to 9:

Best of Show: Erica Nenkervis of Simi Valley

Sweepstakes: Heather Paul of Agoura

Directors’ Award: Christopher Seto of Camarillo

Judge’s Special Award: None

Best Fair Theme: Courtney Galhaway of Oxnard

Ages 10 to 13:

Best of Show: Erin Wolfson of Agoura Hills

Sweepstakes: Julie Burris of Oxnard

Directors’ Award: Erin Wolfson Judge’s Special Award: Logan Vasquez of Thousand Oaks

Best Fair Theme: Jessica Taylor-Westbrook of Ventura

Ages 14 to 17:

Best of Show: Maggie Arceo of Oxnard

Sweepstakes: Dawn Wilson of Ventura

Directors’ Award: Dawn Wilson

Judge’s Special Award: Gretchen Earnard of Ventura & Kristen Grenfell of Ventura

Best Fair Theme: Tiffany Irving of Oxnard