Planning for Fair Picks Up Steam


Near a flickering digital clock counting down the number of days, hours and minutes until the 126th annual Ventura County Fair, harried organizers geared up for the county's yearly slice of Americana.

"Much of what the public sees at the fair is accomplished over the next 12 to 14 days," said Devlin Raley, spokesman for Ventura's Seaside Park, where the fair is held.

New at this year's fair, which will run Aug. 1-12, is a blues and jazz club and interactive science experiments for youths.

Entertainment will include the bands Tower of Power, the Village People, Styx, Asleep at the Wheel and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, along with Glen Campbell, Wynonna Judd and Brad Paisley and Pam Tillis.

"The buildings are being set up, the final projects need to be completed, our exhibits and concessions are organizing artists and licenses," Raley said.

The fair costs about $2 million to produce, and generates about $2 million.

"We don't make a nickel on the fair," Raley said. "It's an opportunity for people to get together and share information. The fair has traditionally been a social event that showcases the things that make Ventura County what it is."

Animals, always a major draw, will be abundant again this year. An estimated 1,050 steer, hogs and sheep will be shown in competitions or available for viewing by adults and children.

Local museums will bring in exhibits demonstrating the county's heritage. There also will be a rodeo, motor sports competitions, the midway, youth exhibits and plenty of food.

Roger Gibbs, general manager of Seaside Park, said he expects 250,000 people to attend this year.

Last year, 247,900 people visited the fair during its 12-day run.

This year's fair poster was unveiled last week. The brightly colored photograph of fireworks bursting over a Ferris wheel will soon be visible throughout the county.

The poster was made from a photo shot by professional photographer Rob Varela, 38, of Oxnard.

"I grew up in Ventura County and grew up covering the fair," Varela said. "It's an honor that they feel this photo reflects the spirit of the fair."

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