Bit of Country : Fair Under Way With Rides, Entertainment and Animals


Kimberly Keeble grasps her hen’s legs and tries to control the flopping turkey on the judging table.

The 10-year-old Sun Valley girl’s only competition in the preliminary round of the San Fernando Valley Fair’s junior livestock competition on Thursday are her older brother and sister. And this dream of becoming a fowl champion got her up early every morning to feed her brood, which also includes a lamb and a pig, at her family’s small ranch near La Tuna Canyon.

But hard work and determination were not enough--her older sister won.

“I wanted to win because they are always mean to me,” she said, glancing toward her siblings with a mischievous grin.


The Keeble children are a rare breed at the city of Los Angeles’ largest fair--which began Thursday at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank--where more attention is paid to the fast rides, the science exhibits and the ethnic food than to the quality of livestock.

But neither are the Keebles immune to big-city attractions. After the competition, Kimberly’s 14-year-old brother, Scott, ran out of the stable yard with this parting shot: “I’m not staying around here all day. I’m putting my lamb away, and I’m going on the rides.”

The fair, which is in its 48th year, features live music, a rodeo, carnival rides, pig races and an auction and lasts until Sunday. About 4,000 people showed up for opening-day ceremonies Thursday, including busloads of children from schools and day-care centers who came because it was Youth and Senior Day, when children under the age of 15 and seniors over 55 were admitted free.

City dwellers like Michelle Yeung, 5, who arrived with her dad and two schoolmates from Northridge, came to enjoy the rides and entertainment, including a clown who painted a white bunny on Michelle’s hand.

“Look, it sparkles,” she told her friends, who gathered around to examine each other’s drawings.

“It was my turn to baby-sit, and I knew there would be a lot of things to do here,” said Michelle’s father, William, as he opened up his wallet to give the girls a few dollars.

The San Fernando Valley Fair board is banking on many more people following William Yeung’s example, helping the fair get back on its feet after three lean years. Fair officials expect to pay off an estimated $300,000 deficit with revenue from this year’s fair, and they have begun negotiations to make the Equestrian Center its permanent site, which they believe is crucial for a money-making fair.


The pre-existing horse arena, animal stables and exhibit facilities at the Equestrian Center have allowed extensive savings from previous rental costs, fair officials said. And for the first time in the fair’s history, the horse show--to be held all day Saturday at the center’s Equidome--will be held on fair grounds.

Longtime fair aficionados seemed to approve of the new digs.

Sitting under a shady tree, 59-year Valley resident Bob McCloskey and his wife recalled the fair’s past moves while also keeping their grandsons from dripping ketchup down their T-shirts.

“I went to this fair when it was at Devonshire Downs every year, and then when it moved to Lake View Terrace (at Hansen Dam),” said McCloskey, 71, of Pacoima. “I have brought my kids here for years, and this is so much more improvement here. It is a much better location.”