FOR THE KIDS : Youth Building Is Fair Game for Fun : Contests and exhibits abound during annual Ventura County event. New paint and better lighting make it a much brighter space.


When the Ventura County Fair opens Wednesday, kids will have a lot more to enjoy than the fair’s usual 3 Rs: rides, rabbits and rhubarb.

For a respite from the roller-coasters and cotton candy, stop by the Youth Building at 3 p.m. most days and check out the contest for kids. It’s something different each day.

A week from today, the kids will be decorating little wooden birdhouses that they can take home. On Aug. 19, it’s kite-making and, the day after that, it’s creative sandwich design with assorted goodies such as peanut butter, jelly, raisins and carrots.

The contest lineup for the remainder of the fair is equally zany: creating goofy costumes out of newspapers, applying glitzy decor to cowboy boots made of construction paper, swiveling a Hula-Hoop, decorating bandannas and flying paper airplanes.


The kids will be given a time limit (less than an hour), and little prizes and ribbons will be awarded in three age categories: 4-7 years, 8-12 years and 13-17 years.

For parents and kids who like to team up in the kitchen, the fair has a dessert-making contest at 6 p.m. Aug. 21 in the Home Arts Building. Teams have 90 minutes to whip up luscious concoctions. Some drop-dead creations from past fairs have included ice cream cake, chocolate truffles and lemon meringue pie. The prize for this one is $50. (Preregistration is required and few spots may be available by fair time.)

If you’re a perennial visitor to the Youth Building, you’ll notice that the old Quonset-style building has been spruced up. New paint and better lighting make it a much brighter space for kids.

As the fair approaches, workers are completing a barnyard farm scene in the center of the Youth Building. Child-size bears with mechanized parts look like they are getting ready to go to the fair. One of them will be loading vegetables into a truck. Another will be moving its arms to put the final touches on a piece of needlework and another will be grooming a sheep for competition.


Elsewhere in the Youth Building, mechanized pigs with long eyelashes are busy in a make-believe bakery. Vintage tractors, including a pedal-operated one, will also be on display.

The usual 4-H projects and other youth exhibits will be set up here again this year: arts and crafts, needlework, photography, foods and table settings, to name a few.

One of the most popular activities at the fair last year was a scavenger hunt for kids on youth day, according to Teri Raley, spokeswoman for the fair. “We had 2,500 kids do this last year,” she said. “It was unbelievably successful.”

They’re doing it again this year on youth day, Aug. 19, when kids 12 and under are admitted free. It’s an all-day event. At the entrance, kids pick up a card that shows 10 stops around the fairgrounds. As kids circulate looking at different areas, they get their cards stamped at the designated locations. Then they redeem the card for a prize.


There are scads of other fun things for kids to do at the fair. The Children’s Dell area has daily entertainment, including storytelling by Ojai’s Jim Cogan, magic by Shawn McMaster of Ventura, the Bumblebeez singing group, singer Lori Richards, and the singing duo Kim and Leana. Nearby is the petting zoo.

For those who think rides when they think fair, here are some tips: Unlimited ride bracelets for the midway are available Aug. 18 and 25 for $12. They are good from noon to 8 p.m. Or, if you buy ride tickets before Aug. 17, you can get 20 rides for $20.


If you want a warm-up for the fair, try Kid’s Day at Ventura Harbor on Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Here’s what’s on tap at Ventura Harbor Village: a free magic show at noon on the lawn in front of the carousel, pony rides, miniature horse and buggy rides, a petting zoo, face painting, sand sculpturing, sidewalk chalk art and kite flying demonstrations. The Latin jazz group Nuestro plays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.


Camarillo’s Youth Theater takes “Snow White” to the stage at the Camarillo Airport Theater, 330 Skyway Drive, beginning Friday and running through Aug. 27. Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. For ticket information, call 388-5716.



* WHAT: Ventura County Fair.

* WHERE: Seaside Park, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura.

* WHEN: Wednesday to Aug. 28, 11 a.m. to midnight every day. Exhibits close at 10 p.m.

* COST: Adults $6, children 6 to 12 years $3; children under 5 admitted free, seniors citizens 55 and older $3.


* FYI: Parking at the fairgrounds is $5. Free shuttle buses run every half-hour from the County Government Center, Ventura High School and the Buenaventura Mall.