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Valley Fair Officials Hope for 50,000 People

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Dueling swordsmen, oversize zucchini and a swimming pig are among the attractions at the 51st edition of the San Fernando Valley Fair, which opens today and runs through Sunday.

Officials rescheduled the event at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center from late July to early June to attract crowds kept away in previous years by stifling heat. They now hope to draw 50,000 people.

The fair schedule includes livestock, craft and gardening competitions, a fencing and fighting show by Burbank-based Swordplay, bands playing Eagles and Creedence Clearwater Revival songs, Latin or country tunes, and a pig race staged by Oklahoma’s Swifty Swine Productions.

One Swifty swine also will swim in a narrow tank several times during the fair. Its owners say they entice it to take the plunge with affection and cookies.

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The fair runs from 4 to 10:30 p.m. today, Senior Citizens Day--meaning free admission for those 62 and older. Grand Marshal Brooks Gardner, an actor best-known as the rugged cowboy in Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus restaurant commercials, will officially kick off the festivities in a procession Friday evening.

On Wednesday, workers finished installing rides and tents as contest entrants took advantage of cool, overcast weather to brush sheep, groom rabbits and polish peppers in preparation for the weekend.

Josh Aceves, a junior at North Hollywood High School, spent the morning smoothing out the mulch in his vegetable garden. In the school’s agriculture program and in the backyard of his family’s Cypress Park home, he learned how best to arrange the plants.

“You’ve got to get the right combination,” he said. “You can’t put cactus right next to some Hawaiian plant.”

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Nearby, four black-clad members of Swordplay ran through several whip exhibitions and fight routines.

“When we did the ‘Hercules’ and ‘Xena’ festival, people loved us,” said Dennis Chavez of Pasadena, referring to two popular sword-happy television series.

“You meet some crazy people at fairs,” said Bobby Lento of Burbank, a martial arts instructor and member of Swordplay, while twirling a pair of wooden fighting sticks. “I keep waiting to see the 800-pound woman with a mustache.”

The equestrian center is at Riverside Drive and Main Street in Burbank. Fair admission is $6 for those 12 and older and free for anyone younger.

For more information, call (818) 557-1600.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Today’s Highlights

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Time Performer Performance Location 4, 6, 6:30 Benny G Jr. Community Stage and 8 p.m. 4:30, 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, April & Texas Rangers Miller Country Stage 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30 and 10 p.m. 5, 7, and 9 p.m. Alley Cats Community Stage 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, Viento de Los Andes Grounds 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30 and 10 p.m. 6:30, 7, 7:30, 8, Snuffie’s Clowns Grounds 8:30, 9, 9:30 and 10 p.m. 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, Swordplay Grounds 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30 and 10 p.m.

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